Wildfire Dangers: What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk

With temperatures on the rise once more, one thing becomes abundantly clear to those living in (dry, wooded, open-ridge gusty wind areas) fire-prone areas, especially in California and the other Western States —> Wildfire season isn’t limited to just summer and fall any more.  We’ve all seen in the news (even more-so over the last several years) the damage and devastation caused by wildfires – many caused by lightning strikes – but even more caused by human carelessness – including but not limited to campfires, fireworks, automotive, lawnmowers, dry timber and brush around homes and wooden structures, improper storage of flammable  substances, etc. Homeowners need to be ever vigilant and need to take simple steps to protect their homes and neighborhoods against wildfires.

Basic Steps YOU Can Take AHEAD of Time

  • Check the area around your home for any fire hazards. Place woodpiles and propane tanks at least 30 feet away from the home. Cover chimneys or stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen of 1/2 inch or smaller mesh.
  • Clear the space around your home. Clear brush areas from 100 to 200 feet (500 feet on sheer slopes is recommended as flames will shoot up faster). This can reduce the risk of fire by 50 percent. It will also provide room for firefighters to battle the blaze. Also be sure to remove dead leaves and brush from around your home and on the roof and gutters on a regular basis.
  • Landscape the area around your home with fire-resistant plants. For example, ice plants or citrus trees withstand high temperatures and do not support open flames when ignited. Consult a nursery or your local fire department about all types of fire-retardant plans. Also place native shrubs and trees at least 10 feet apart, and prune branches on trees taller than 18 feet within six feet of the ground.
  • Use non-combustible building materials. A non-combustible or fire-resistant shingle roof can prevent against flaming wood shingles or other debris carried by the wind. Also seal the eaves under your roof to prevent flying embers from lodging on your home. Decking should be concrete, tile or protected with fire-resistant coating. Install fire-resistant shutters or shades instead of drapes that can easily catch on fire.
  • Have an adequate water supply handy for fire fighting. You can do a number of things such as installing a water tank and water pump, buying a pool pump or storing extra trash cans filled with water. You may also consider buying a fire hose as regular garden hoses may not be enough to battle high blazes or able to withstand extreme temperatures.
  • Make sure there are accessible roads to your home. Your driveway should be at least 15 feet wide and have enough turnaround space for emergency vehicles.

Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe At Home

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Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe At Home

Your first as well as most effective defense against wildfire is to create a fire safe landscape of at least 30-to-100 feet perimeter around your home. You can do this by removing flammable vegetation, spacing trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart, clearing away dead leaves on your roof, as well as your rain gutters, and dry brush around your home.

In addition to creating a defensible space, you may want to consider the plants and trees in your garden as a type of fire defense. Junipers and eucalyptus trees, commonly used around homes, are extremely flammable. On the other hand, rose geraniums, ice plants and white rockrose withstood high temperatures for prolonged periods without igniting.

Check with your fire department or local nursery to determine which fire-resistive plants are adapted to the climate in your area. In general, fire-resistive plants grow close to the ground, have a low sap or resin content, grow without accumulating dead branches, needles or leaves and are easily maintained and pruned.

Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe

If a fire does threaten your home, the first few minutes are the most critical for saving it. The following steps give firefighters a better chance of finding and protecting your home.

  • Ensure that street signs and home address are clearly visible.
  • Be sure that the road access can accommodate large emergency vehicles. All roads should have turnaround areas large enough for fire equipment.
  • If you have a swimming pool, be prepared to use it as a fire-fighting tool by purchasing and learning how to use a pool pump.

Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house because it can easily catch fire from the wind-blown sparks of a wildfire. Build or re-roof with fire resistive or noncombustible materials. Your local fire department can provide specific roofing guidelines in your area.

In addition to ensuring that the outside of your home is fire safe, it’s important to take steps inside as well. More than 50 percent of fatal residential fires occur at night when people are sleeping. Smoke detectors have saved many lives, and could save yours. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and position them on the ceiling just outside each bedroom.

Plan Ahead

Also, plan and practice an escape route with all family members. Fire can spread very rapidly. Even with an early warning from smoke detectors, escaping a fire can be difficult. The following steps can help you plan your escape:

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark all possible escape routes.
  • Prepare a list of valuables to take with you in an emergency.
  • Remind everyone to close doors behind them as they evacuate the house to slow down the spread of fire, smoke and heat.
  • Decide on an outside meeting place to gather your family together and to make sure everyone is out and accounted for.
  • Conduct regular home fire drills. You may be blinded or hampered by smoke, so try practicing your escape plan with your eyes closed.

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Be on the lookout for anything that could start a fire.

Watch out for:

  • Matches and lighters
  • Old and worn-out electrical cords
  • Too many cords in a wall socket
  • Candles burning in an empty room
  • Clothes and blankets near space heaters and on hot lamps

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Here are additional posts from this site regarding FIRE SAFETY:

Fire Safety At Home – Reminder Chart

Wildfire Dangers: What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk

20 Things A Burglar Won’t Tell You

burglary_in_progress

Have you considered spending your hard-earned money on a home securityburglar-cartoon system?

Well, taking a look inside of a burglar’s mind just might help you make that decision. Consider the following musings of actual, experienced burglars and it just might help persuade your final thought process……….

Learn how to better protect yourself and your family with these insider secrets.

#1) –  Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

#2) – Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

#3) – Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

#4) – Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

#5) – If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

#6) – If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

#7) – A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom—and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

#8) – I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

#9) – Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

#10) – You’re right….. I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables….. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

#11) – It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door – understandable – But understand this….. I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

#12) – A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.

#13) – Sometimes, I carry a clipboard….. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

#14) – The two things I hate most….. loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

#15) – I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing….. It’s human nature.

#16) – I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

#17) – I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

#18) – Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

#19) – To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.

#20) – If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

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Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars On The Job

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