PORTLAND, Ore. (April 18, 2022) — Wildfire home protection should be your top priority if you live in an area with frequent wildfires.
The peak season is coming, and experts say it’s likely to be intense this year, especially in areas such as the West coast that are experiencing drought. Already, fires are burning in California, a warning sign the season may again be a brutal one in many regions.
Early spring is an ideal time for homeowners to take steps to reduce potential wildfire threats to their homes and property before hotter weather strikes. Making wildfire-smart decisions about improvement projects and prioritizing chores that help reduce risks well in advance can offer extra protection when the wildfire season flares up.
Home improvement experts at leading trade groups, such as the Metal Roofing Alliance, and emergency disaster organizations like FEMA offer homeowners a helpful checklist to guard against wildfire danger.
Keep Wildfire Protection in Mind During Spring Yard Clean Up
Wildfire home protection starts with spring home maintenance. Trim and remove shrubs and trees close to structures. FEMA recommends creating a 30-foot safety zone around the house at a minimum, more if the property is sloped (fire travels more readily uphill).
Keep in mind, some vegetation is more flammable than others. Research to plan fire-resistant landscaping by checking with your local fire department or garden center. Oregon State University Extension Service has a great comprehensive list of fire-resistant plants.
Look for Danger Prevention, Up High and Down Low
Approach wildfire home protection from all angles. Wildfires can spread underground and by flying sparks.
Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground, and rake and remove fallen debris and organic matter including pinecones, dead branches, grasses and leaves.
Keep Up Home Care and Maintenance
After you’ve trimmed your tree and shrubs, don’t keep woodpiles close to any structures. Haul away the dried yard debris piles as soon as possible.
Closely maintain the largest space a fire could start on your property: your lawn. Cut your grass often and water it on a consistent schedule.
Trapped debris in gutters creates a perfect spot for a fire to blaze, so clean them regularly.
Pick Resilient Materials When Making Home Improvements
Choose the right materials when making home improvements. Some building materials are more ignition-resistant than others.
In wildfire-prone areas, work to reduce and eliminate the use of wood for exteriors as much as possible. Don’t use wood, shake and traditional shingles for roofs.
Rooftops are especially vulnerable to wayward sparks and embers, even from wildfires more than a mile away. A metal roof is the best choice for a home in a fire-prone area. They carry a Class A fire rating, the highest level of protection available. They also are energy-efficient, low maintenance, and an overall more sustainable roofing material choice.
Also, make sure roof vents are covered with wire mesh to help prevent wayward sparks from finding their way inside your attic.
Eliminate Exposed Spaces
Porches, balconies and overhangs with exposed space underneath can be fuel for an approaching fire. Clear all leaves, trash and other combustible materials from underneath and do not use them for storage.
Consider fire-resistant materials when planning porch or sun decks. Extend half-inch mesh screens all the way to the ground in areas below decks and porches.
Prepare for Emergency Evacuation
Create a plan early so all family members know where to go and what to bring should you have to evacuate quickly. Plan several escape routes in case roads are blocked by a wildfire.
Have a kit ready to “grab and go,” filled with essentials including important prescriptions, valuable information, first aid supplies and other emergency items to save time in the event of a crisis.