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Each year, wildfires consume homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) which is defined as areas where homes are built near or among lands prone to wildfire. Studies show that as many as 80 percent of homes lost to wildfire may have been saved if brush around the homes were cleared and defensible space created around structures. There is no better time than now to prepare and educate your family, friends and neighbors. Make sure everyone knows what to do to protect people and homes in case of fire.

What to do BEFORE a wildfire:

  • Maintain a 30 foot defensible space around buildings, structures, decks, etc. to act as a fire break.
  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures and remove vines from the walls of the home. Clear all flammable vegetation.
  • 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. 
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue.
  • Follow local burning regulations.
  • 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. 
  • Review your homeowner's insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home's contents
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.\

What to do DURING a Wildfire:

  • Check your phone, social media, television, or radio for emergency alerts and evacuation information.
  • Turn on a TV or radio to get the latest emergency information.
  • If you have a ladder, prop it against the house so you and firefighters have access to roof.
  • If hoses and adequate water are available set them up. Fill buckets with water.
  • Remove combustible material from the area surrounding the house (lawn chairs, tables, etc.).
  • Turn a light on in each room for visibility in case of smoke.
  • Open or take down flammable drapes and curtains.
  • Close all blinds and non-flammable window coverings.
  • Move upholstered furniture away from windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Be ready to evacuate all family members and pets when requested to do so.
  • Turn off air conditioning/air circulation systems
  • Detach electrical garage doors. Back in your car and leave the keys in the ignition.
  • Secure your pets if possible.

What to do AFTER a Wildfire:

  • Check with fire officials before attempting to return to your home.
  • Use caution when re-entering a burned area - flare ups can occur.
  • Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps and vegetation. Use your buckets of water.
  • Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks and embers.
  • Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden burning, sparks and embers.
  • Continue to check for problem areas for several days.
  • Contact 911 if any danger is perceived.
For more information and graphic illustration on how to create a defensible space please visit NFPA - Preparing homes for wildfire
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