Safeguard Your Home this Wildfire Season

Wildfire season typically runs from May to September, but according to the Western Fire Chiefs Association, this year’s wildfire season can begin as late as July and run through November. 

This means you still have time to create a defensible space around your home and protect it by using fire resistant building materials. Home Hardening means using ignition-resistant materials on and around your home to help it withstand flying embers and radiant heat. Defensible Space is the buffer created by removing dead plants, grass, and weeds to help keep a wildfire away from your home.

Harden your home from wildfires

Roofs, chimneys, vents and windows, walls and decks, and rain gutter and water supply are areas of your home you can safeguard against fire. Focus on stopping potential flames from reaching your home, protect it from the heat, and block it from flying embers. Use the same ignition-resistant materials on patio covers as those on your roof.

Roof safeguarding tips:

  • Material choice: The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Opt for composite, metal, clay, or tile roofing to resist fires. 
  • Ember sealing: Close off gaps under roof tiles and shingles to block wind-blown embers. 
  • Debris removal: Regularly clear leaves, pine needles, and other debris from the roof to prevent ignition. 

Chimney safeguarding tips:

  • Chimney screening: Cover your chimney and stove pipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.  
  • Keep closed seasonally: Close the fireplace flue during wildfire season when the chimney is not being used. 

Vent and window safeguarding tips:

  • Mesh screening: Install 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh over vents to block embers. Avoid fiberglass or plastic meshes, which can melt. 
  • Advanced venting: Consider installing ember- and flame-resistant vents, known as WUI vents, for enhanced protection. 
  • Dual-pane installation: Fit dual-paned windows with at least one tempered glass layer to withstand fire-induced breakage. 
  • Size consideration: Limit the size and number of windows facing large vegetation areas to reduce radiant heat exposure. 
  • Screen addition: Add screens to all operable windows to catch embers and reduce heat. 

Wall & deck safeguarding tips:

  • Material selection: Avoid flammable siding. Preferred materials include stucco, fiber cement, or specially treated wood. 
  • Full coverage: Ensure the selected materials extend from the foundation to the roofline for comprehensive protection. 
  • Material selection: Avoid flammable siding. Preferred materials include stucco, fiber cement, or specially treated wood. 
  • Full coverage: Ensure the selected materials extend from the foundation to the roofline for comprehensive protection. 

Rain gutter & water supply safeguarding tips:

  • Regular cleaning: Keep gutters free from plant debris to prevent ember ignition. 
  • Drip edge installation: Add a noncombustible metal drip edge to protect the roof’s edge from ember exposure. 
  • Gutter guards: Use noncombustible gutter covers to keep out debris and reduce maintenance. 
  • Hose availability: Install long garden hoses at your property that can reach all areas, including roofs and decks. 
  • Supplementary water sources: Consider installing pumps for pools or wells to increase water availability during fires. 

Create a defensible space from wildfires

This area, free from flammable materials and vegetation, significantly lowers the risk of fire reaching your property. It also gives firefighters a safer area to defend your property. You want to create and maintain 100 feet of Defensible Space from your home. This includes ensuring all combustible materials are located at least 30 feet away from your home, and grass maintains a maximum height of four inches. 

One of the best ways to create a defensible space is landscape choices. You can incorporate fire-resistant plants in your landscaping to enhance your home’s wildfire defense. 

Here are key plant traits to consider when choosing plants with fire prevention in mind: 

  • Moisture content: Opt for plants with leaves that retain moisture, as they’re less likely to catch fire.
  • Waxes and oils: Plants high in waxes, oils, and resins can be more flammable.
  • Growth structure: Open-growth plants may have lower fire risk than dense ones.
  • Growth speed: Fast-growing plants need more space and maintenance.
  • Height potential: Know how tall a plant can get to ensure it fits your space.
  • Shedding habits: Plants that shed bark or leaves need frequent cleanup to reduce fire hazards.

You can adapt your wildfire preparedness season by season. Spring is the time to prepare for dry conditions.

  • Clear dead vegetation and create a buffer zone around your home.
  • Remove trees affected by pests to prevent spread. Insect activity increases in the summer.
  • Remove or cover cut wood to avoid attracting beetles and other pests. Keep it away from healthy trees.
  • Water valuable trees sparingly, following best practices, and plant new trees if there’s enough water.

Have a fire evacuation plan

Sometimes you do everything right, but when it’s time to go, go! When urgent evacuation is necessary, these steps will guide you to leave safely and quickly. 

  1. Review your evacuation plan checklist
  2. Monitor wildfire updates
  3. Put your “go-bag” in the car
  4. Wear the right clothes
  5. Get your pets ready to evacuate

Remember, if you’re part of a mandatory evacuation, do not return home until you are given the all-clear to do so by emergency responders.

If you need to file a homeowners’ claim for damage to your property due to a wildfire loss, contact your insurance provider. If it’s determined you need temporary housing, your adjuster will contact a temporary housing provider like ALE Solutions. Learn more about what ALE Solutions has to offer.


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