Protect Your Home
Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
Any porch, balcony or overhang with exposed space underneath is fuel for an approaching fire. Overhangs ignite easily by flying embers and by the heat and fire that get trapped underneath. If vegetation is allowed to grow underneath or if the space is used for storage, the hazard is increased significantly. Clear leaves, trash and other combustible materials away from underneath sun decks and porches. Extend 1/2-inch mesh screen from all overhangs down to the ground. Enclose wooden stilts with non-combustible material such as concrete, brick, rock, stucco or metal. Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers. If you're planning a porch or sun deck, use non-combustible or fire-resistant materials. If possible, build the structure to the ground so that there is no space underneath.
Enclose eaves and overhangs.
Eaves trap the heat rising along the exterior siding. Enclose all eaves to reduce the hazard.
Cover house vents with wire mesh.
Any attic vent, soffit vent, louver or other opening can allow embers and flaming debris to enter a home and ignite it. Cover all openings with 1/4 inch or smaller corrosion-resistant wire mesh. If you're designing louvers, place them in the vertical wall rather than the soffit of the overhang.
Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes.
Chimneys create a hazard when embers escape through the top. To prevent this, install spark arrestors on all chimneys, stovepipes and vents for fuel-burning heaters. Use spark arrestors made of 12-gauge welded or woven wire mesh screen with openings 1/2 inch across. Ask your fire department for exact specifications. If you're building a chimney, use non-combustible materials and make sure the top of the chimney is at least two feet higher than any obstruction within 10 feet of the chimney. Keep the chimney clean.
Use fire resistant siding.
Use fire resistant materials in the siding of your home, such as stucco, metal, brick, cement shingles, concrete and rock. You can treat wood siding with UL-approved fire retardant chemicals, but the treatment and protection are not permanent.
Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors.
Windows allow radiated heat to pass through and ignite combustible materials inside. The larger the pane of glass, the more vulnerable it is to fire. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, and fire resistant shutters or drapes, help reduce the wildfire risk. You can also install non-combustible awnings to shield windows and use shatter-resistant glazing such as tempered or wireglass.
Other safety measures to consider at the time of construction or remodeling.
- Choose locations wisely; canyon and slope locations increase the risk of exposure to wildland fires.
- Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.
- Avoid designs that include wooden decks and patios.
- The roof is especially vulnerable in a wildfire. Embers and flaming debris can travel great distances, land on your roof and start a new fire. Avoid flammable roofing materials such as wood, shake and shingle. Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
Before the Fire Approaches Your House
- Evacuate. Evacuate your pets and all family members who are not essential to preparing the home. Anyone with medical or physical limitations and the young and the elderly should be evacuated immediately.
- Wear Protective Clothing.
- Remove Combustibles. Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
- Close/Protect Openings. Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
- Close Inside Doors/Open Damper. Close alt doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
- Shut Off Gas. Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
- Water. Connect garden hoses. Fill pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, or arge containers with water.
- Pumps. If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready.
- Ladder. Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
- Car. Back your car into the driveway and roll up the windows.
- Garage Doors. Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
- Valuables. Place valuable papers, mementos and anything "you can't live without" inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.
Preparing to Leave
- Lights. Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.
- Don't Lock Up. Leave doors and windows closed but unlocked. It may be necessary for firefighters to gain quick entry into your home to fight fire. The entire area will be isolated and patrolled by sheriff's deputies or police.