22 Jul How To Protect Your Home From Wildfires
Every year hundreds of homes and structures are destroyed by wildfire. As we enter the peak of wildfire season, we wanted to keep you informed on how to protect your home from wildfires and keep your family safe.
Being prepared is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home from wildfires. According to officials, the difference between a safe home and complete destruction is all in how well homeowners prepare and maintain their property. To best prepare for a wildfire, get familiar with the ‘fire terms’ you need to know and your home’s ignition risk.
Fire Terms To Know To Protect Your Home From Wildfires:
Surface Fires: These fires burn materials that are lying on or immediately above the ground. These materials include leaves, grass, stumps, tree limbs, low shrubs, downed logs, and pine needles. This kind of fire can spread quickly, finding vulnerable spots to ignite.
Crown Fires: Move through the tops of trees by burning from one tree top to the next. These fires have extremely high flames, making it easy for them to start other fires beyond the fire front with flying embers. These are the most destructive wildfires, as they can spread over large areas very quickly.
Ladder Fuels: Branches that extend to the ground and allow the fire to climb up the tree to its crown.
Now that we know some basic fire terms that will help to protect your home from wildfires, get familiar with your home’s ignition risk by understanding each zone and how you can maintain your property to be prepared for wildfire.
Understanding Ignition Risk To Protect Your Home From Wildfires
A home’s ignition risk is determined by its immediate surroundings or its “home ignition zone” and the home’s construction materials.
According to fire science research and case studies, it’s not where a home is located that necessarily determines ignition risk but the landscape around it, often referred to as the “Home ignition zone.” The home ignition zone is defined as the home and its immediate surroundings up to 200 feet. The Firewise Communities Program provides tips for reducing wildfire risk based on the home ignition zone concept:
Zone One: 0 to 30 Feet (for all homes in the WUI)
Zone One is typically defined as 30 feet in all directions from your house and any attached structures such as decks, garages, and storage buildings, as well as any trees next to the house you are incorporating into your defensible space. Experts recommend that everyone in the WUI create a Firewise Zone 1 regardless of their hazard-area rating.
Fire-Free Five. Make a minimum of the first five feet surrounding your house totally free of anything flammable. Use fire-resistant landscaping materials such as rock mulch (bark and chip mulch become flammable when dry) or stone walkways, or plant high moisture content annuals or perennials.
Five to 30 feet. Choose plants that are low-growing and don’t contain waxes, resins, and oils that burn easily. Group and space plantings so they don’t create a continuous path for the fire.
- Trim tree branches that overhang the house.
- Trim tree branches up 6 to 10 feet from the ground; this prevents the lower branches from serving as ladders for the fire to climb.
- Space conifer trees so there are 30 feet between crowns. If you plan to cut down trees around your home to improve your defensible space, choose wisely: conifers, pines, evergreens, firs, and eucalyptus will catch on fire faster than hardwood trees.
- Keep your grass watered and mowed. A well-watered lawn can serve as a fire break. A dry, overgrown lawn can serve as a fire path. If you live in an arid climate or have to deal with frequent water restrictions, consider landscaping with rock and fire-resistant, drought-tolerant plants and groundcovers.
- Remove any dead vegetation from under decks and within ten feet of the house. Once you’ve screened in the space below your deck, you’ll have an easier time keeping blowing leaves and debris out. But it will probably still pile up when the wind blows, so make a habit of walking your perimeter regularly during fire season.
- Locate propane tanks and woodpiles outside this zone.
Zone Two: 30 to 100 Feet (for Moderate and High Hazard Areas)
- Use plantings that are low-growing, well-irrigated, and less flammable.
- Trees should be clustered in groups of two or three with 30 feet between clusters; leave 20 feet between individual trees.
- Prune lower branches up 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
- Encourage a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees if your climate permits.
- Create fire breaks with walkways, lawns, water features, rock gardens, rock patios, and gravel or paved driveways.
Zone Three: 100 to 200 Feet (for High Hazard Areas)
Reduce density in this area by thinning and creating more space between trees. Prune tall trees, so the crowns (tops) don’t touch. Remove small conifers growing in between larger trees – they provide ladder fuel.
If you have several acres or more, you might want to consult a forester about the smartest way to thin. Some studies show that thinning for thinning’s sake can actually make it easier for a surface fire to spread. The best approach is to execute a plan that takes typical fire behavior during dry and windy conditions into account rather than just thin to an arbitrary density.
How To Protect Your Home From Wildfires With EverLogs
Unfortunately, wildfires still happen and can devastate even the most prepared. Be sure to have a plan with your family to all get to a safe location where you can be accounted for – including your pets (they are family, too!). Also, Get familiar with your home options. There are fire-safe resources for the exterior of your home that can drastically reduce your chance of home destruction.
EverLog Systems Concrete Logs, Timbers, and Siding are the perfect addition to any home to ensure the utmost protection from wildfires. Our concrete log homes are non-combustible and have a minimum 3-hour fire rating. Not only do our concrete log homes provide superior fire protection, but insurance companies also provide our homeowners with preferential insurance ratings resulting in lower homeowners insurance costs. Homeowner’s insurance is generally a minimum of 20% less costly than comparable frame or log homes. These savings increase in wildland-urban interface areas.