The recent wildfire tragedy that took place on the Hawaiian island of Maui has been yet another reminder of how serious and destructive wildfires can be. With an entire historic town now lost to the hungry flames of a wind-fueled fire, one thing often stands out: the ‘Miracle House.’ This home is the last one standing amongst the ashes of its former neighborhood, begging the question: Why wasn’t it devoured like the others? And, if you live in an area that puts your home at risk of being affected by wildfires, what strategies can you use to protect your home?
Create Defensible Space
Creating defensible space around your home is one of the most crucial steps in wildfire prevention. This involves clearing vegetation, leaves, and debris from your property. Maintain a clear zone of at least 30 feet around your home and consider extending it to 100 feet in high-risk areas. Remove dead trees and branches, prune overhanging limbs, and space trees and shrubs apart to prevent the spread of fire.
The survival of the ‘Miracle House’ is largely credited to the area around the home being dug out and filled with river stones. This created a critical barrier that prevented embers from reaching the house structure and continuing the chain reaction that wildfires largely rely on to keep going.
Opt for fire-resistant plants and landscaping materials when designing your yard. Some plants, like succulents and certain types of grasses, are less likely to ignite. Use gravel, stone, and non-combustible mulch instead of wood chips or bark. Additionally, keep your lawn well-irrigated and mowed to reduce fuel for potential fires.
Fire-Resistant Building Materials
The materials you choose for your home’s exterior can significantly impact its vulnerability to wildfires. Consider using fire-resistant siding, roofing, and windows. Non-combustible materials like metal, concrete, and stucco can help protect your home from flying embers and direct flames.
Embers from wildfires can infiltrate homes through vents, soffits, and eaves. Install ember-resistant vents, screens, and coverings to block embers from entering your home. Regularly inspect and maintain these components to ensure they remain effective.
Maintain Your Roof
Your roof is one of the most vulnerable areas during a wildfire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters of debris like leaves and pine needles. Consider installing spark arresters on chimneys and stovepipes to prevent embers from causing roof fires.
Firebreaks and Firebreak Structures
In areas with a higher risk of wildfires, consider creating firebreaks around your property. These are cleared areas that act as barriers to slow or stop the advance of a fire. You can also build firebreak structures, such as fire-resistant walls and fences, to protect your home further.
Evaluate the attachments and accessories to your home, such as decks, porches, and fences. Use fire-resistant materials for these structures and consider installing spark arresters on chimneys and vents. Create a gap between wooden decks and the home to prevent flames from reaching your house.
Maintenance is key to ensuring your wildfire protection measures remain effective. Regularly trim trees and shrubs, clean gutters, and inspect your home’s exterior. Replace damaged or worn-out fire-resistant materials promptly.
No matter how well-prepared you are, it’s essential to have a wildfire emergency plan in place. This includes evacuation routes, a designated meeting point for your family, and a “go bag” with essential items like medications, important documents, and a first-aid kit. Stay informed about local fire conditions through alerts and news sources.
Review your homeowners’ insurance policy to ensure it covers wildfire damage adequately. Consider additional coverage if necessary and keep a detailed inventory of your possessions to simplify the claims process in case of loss.
Fire Protection Services from Fireline
Whether you need smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or an automatic sprinkler system installed at your commercial property, Fireline has you covered. We have been protecting people and property from fire damage since 1947—and our experience shows in our excellent work! We are known for our superb customer service, our expertise, and our reliability. For more information on how we can help your residential or commercial property, visit us online or give us a call at (800) 553-3405. We are in Baltimore, MD, with a second office in Leesburg, VA. For more fire safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.