If you live in an area that’s known to be at high risk for wildfire, don’t wait until your experience one before you take steps to protect your house from it. Plenty of things could ignite your house during a fire—a flying ember or wood that lands on your roof, deck, vent, porch, or gutter and ignites debris and leaves.
That being said, beef up your home’s defenses against wildfire with these tips:
- If you still don’t have smoke detectors or have not checked their batteries recently, do it right now.
- Keep your lawn, porch, and gutters free of fallen branches, leaves, and debris. If the threat of wildlife is imminent, get rid of all decorations and furniture outside your home.
- Make sure you have easy access to a shovel and bucket for digging a trench to safeguard your property from nearby ground fire, as well as a water hose and several fire extinguishers.
- Ensure that your plants are green and properly irrigated since healthy plants don’t catch on fire as easily as dry plants do. Consider planting fire-resistant plants such as lilacs, rhododendrons, and irises as well.
- Build a 100-foot perimeter surrounding your property, free of dry shrubs grass, and leaves that could easily attract wildfires. Make sure to keep woodpiles, vehicles, and petroleum tanks away from this zone.
- Trim tree branches near your home and tree limbs extending within a few feet of chimney openings. Cover your vents and chimneys with fire-resistant mesh as well.
- If wood fencing surrounds your home, consider replacing three-foot portions that connect to your home with non-flammable fencing materials such as metal.
- If at all possible, your windows must be tempered glass since they resist cracking. Windows with wooden frames are likewise more susceptible to fires.
- Consider noncombustible, or fire-resistant siding such as brick or stucco offers the best protection.
- Wooden shingle roofs are extremely flammable so consider other options such as stone, tile, metal, or asphalt.
United States Adjusters note that it’s also important to note that being as prepared as you can in case of a wildfire would also help your insurance claim should a fire occur since it would communicate to your insurer that you did everything you could to safeguard your home, says an experienced fire claims adjuster. Last but not the least, evacuate your family immediately if there’s an impending wildfire—do not pass go, don’t collect $200, and just go. Make certain to have an evacuation plan that everyone in your family knows about.