It is difficult to imagine anything more horrific than the devastation left behind by wildfire, but because we live in Southern California we must learn to live with that reality. Preparation, including creating a defensible space around your property, could help protect your loved ones and save your home.
Wildland areas can be wonderfully tranquil places to live. However, the recent wildfire seasons are indicative of the dangers posed by wildfires that can, and will continue to, threaten lives and property in Southern California. Dry, hot northeast winds are capable of pushing wildfire incredibly fast and deep into neighborhoods far from the edge of native vegetation. In recent years, large portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo, and Mono counties were destroyed by out-of-control wildfires. Because native brush is easily ignited when dry, the combination of drought conditions, hot weather, and wind can lead to widespread devastation of homes, neighborhood,s and communities. A single wind-driven spark can easily set fire to a roof, sending embers onto neighboring rooftops. Reduce the risk to your family and property – take steps now to protect your home and loved ones!
- It can happen to you!
- Will your home survive?
- Will you?
Access and Visibility
- Make sure the roadway approaching your home is wide enough to accommodate an evacuating car and an entering fire truck at the same time. Trim over-hanging branches to allow enough clearance for large emergency vehicles.
- Streets and roads must be marked with clearly visible street signs. Missing or difficult-to-read street signs can delay emergency response.
- Your address should be easy to see from the street. If necessary, post it at your driveway entrance as well as on your home. The numbers should be at least four inches tall on a contrasting background. Periodically check to make certain that new plant growth has not covered any part of your address.
- Clear dry brush, grass, and dead leaves a minimum of 30 to 100 feet from your home. If your home is located on steep terrain or surrounded by dense vegetation, provide even more clearance. Call your fire department for exact brush clearance rules in your area.
- Remove trees and bushes planted against your home where they can ignite and spread flames to the structure.
- Check with your local nursery and purchase fire-resistive plants. Landscaping with the right materials can provide an attractive, fire resistant barrier.
Construction for Fire Resistance
- Choose non-combustible roofing materials like tile, fiber cement, clay, or asphalt shingles when you build or buy a home or replace an existing roof.
- Don’t be fooled by claims that a spray-on treatment will protect your wood shake roof from fire; the fire resistance won’t last, once again leaving your roof and home vulnerable to fire.
- Enclose the undersides of patios and decks with fire-resistant materials. Stucco, brick, and decorative rock will provide effective fire resistance to the exterior of your home.
- Protect the interior of your home from radiant heat caused by fire by installing residential fire sprinklers.
Plan for Evacuation
- Plan your escape in advance and be ready to "pack up and get out" if your home is in the path of a wildfire.
- Make a list of important items to take with you including: valuables, family photographs and videos, important paperwork like proof of insurance, birth certificates, passports, and other legal documents. Be ready to take prescription medication, eyeglasses, and other health-related items. Set up a plan for family members to reunite if separated.
- If you have them, include family pets and livestock in your plan and have a supply of food and water ready, as well as leashes, carriers and trailers if needed. Shot records and other documents may come in handy if boarding is required.
Getting Out Ahead of the Fire
- Be prepared to leave when told by officials or as soon as you feel threatened by the approaching fire. Make sure each vehicle has plenty of gas/fuel and is parked facing toward the exit road. Know where the keys are.
- Fire can move as rapidly as the wind blows - so be sure to leave while it is still safe. Resist the temptation to stay behind in order to try and save your home with a garden hose. You might be endangering the lives of emergency personnel, as well as your own. No house or anything in it is more valuable than a human life.
Call the Fire & Burn Foundation at (909) 580-6339, for more information.