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Wildfire: Are You Prepared? More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings - in or near forests, rural areas or remote mountain sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfire.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now - before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home and property.
Contact your local fire department,health department or forestry office for information on fire laws. Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address
Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire
Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach
Post fire emergency telephone numbers
Plan several escape routes away from your home - by car and by foot
Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire Make a list of your neighbors' skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can't get home.
Before Wildfire Threatens Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire, rather than fuel it. Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling. Or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals. Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
Create a 30-50 foot safety zone around your home Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.
Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.
Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
Ask the power company to clear branches from powerlines.
Remove vines from the walls of the home.
Mow grass regularly.
Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill - use non-flammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.
Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for two days, then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only UL-approved woodburning devices.
PROTECT YOUR HOME
Regularly clean roof and gutters.
Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Code 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
Use 1/2-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept.
Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
Practice Wildfire Safety People start most wildfires - find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety. More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings - in or near forests, rural areas or remote mountain sites.
PLAN YOUR WATER NEEDS
Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.
Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.