Protect Your Home
Address: Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road.
Home Site and Yard: Ensure you have at least a 100-foot radius of defensible space (cleared vegetation) around your home. Note that even more clearance may be needed for homes in severe hazard areas. This means looking past what you own to determine the impact a common slope or neighbors’ yard will have on your property during a wildland fire.
Cut dry weeds and grass before noon when temperatures are cooler to reduce the chance of sparking a fire.
Landscape with fire-resistant plants that have a high moisture content and are low-growing.
Keep woodpiles, propane tanks and combustible materials away from your home and other structures such as garages, barns and sheds.
Ensure that trees are far away from power lines.
Inside: Keep working fire extinguishers on hand.
Install smoke alarms on each level of your home and near bedrooms. Test them monthly and change the batteries twice a year.
Roof: Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your home because it can easily catch fire from wind-blown embers. Homes with wood-shake or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildland fire.
Build your roof or re-roof with fire-resistant materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent ember intrusion.
Clear pine needles, leaves and other debris from your roof and gutters.
Cut any tree branches within ten feet of your roof.
Vents: Vents on homes are particularly vulnerable to flying embers.
All vent openings should be covered with 1⁄8-inch or smaller metal mesh. Do not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.
Attic vents in eaves or cornices should be baffled or otherwise protected to prevent ember intrusion (mesh is not enough).
Windows: Heat from a wildland fire can cause windows to break even before the home ignites. This allows burning embers to enter and start internal fires. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable.
Install dual-paned windows with the exterior pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire.
Limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation.
Walls: Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas.
Build or remodel with fire-resistant building materials, such as brick, cement, masonry or stucco.
Be sure to extend materials from foundation to roof.
Garage: Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket and hoe available for fire emergencies.
Install a solid door with self-closing hinges between living areas and the garage. Install weather stripping around and under door to prevent ember intrusion.
Store all combustibles and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.
Driveways and Access Roads: Driveways should be designed to allow fire and emergency vehicles and equipment to reach your house.
Access roads should have a minimum 10-foot clearance on either side of the traveled section of the roadway and should allow for two-way traffic.
Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.
Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to a minimum of 13 1⁄2 feet to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Non-Combustible Fencing: Make sure to use non-combustible fencing to protect your home during a wildland fire.
Raingutters: Screen or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.
Water Supply: Have multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.
If you have a pool or well, consider a pump.
Chimney: Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen of 1⁄4-inch wire mesh or smaller to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.
Make sure that your chimney is at least 10 feet away from any tree branches.
Deck/Patio Cover: Use heavy timber or non-flammable construction material for decks.
Enclose the underside of balconies and decks with fire-resistant materials to prevent embers from blowing underneath.
Keep your deck clear of combustible items, such as baskets, dried flower arrangements and other debris.
The decking surface must be ignition resistant if it’s within 10 feet of the home.
What is a Hardened Home ?
Construction materials and the quality of the defensible space surrounding it are what gives a home the best chance to survive a wildland fire. Embers from a wildland fire will find the weak link in your home’s fire protection scheme and gain the upper hand because of a small, overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor. However, there are measures you can take to safeguard your home from wildland fire. While you may not be able to accomplish all the measures listed below, each will increase your home’s, and possibly your family’s, safety and survival during a wildland fire.
Roofs are the most vulnerable surface where embers land because they can lodge and start a fire. Roof valleys, open ends of barrel tiles and rain gutters are all points of entry.
Embers can gather under open eaves and ignite exposed wood or other combustible material.
Embers can enter the attic or other concealed spaces and ignite combustible materials. Vents in eaves and cornices are particularly vulnerable, as are any unscreened vents.
Combustible siding or other combustible or overlapping materials provide surfaces or crevices for embers to nestle and ignite.
WINDOWS and DOORS
Embers can enter gaps in doors, including garage doors. Plants or combustible storage near windows can be ignited from embers and generate heat that can break windows and/or melt combustible frames.
BALCONIES and DECKS
Embers can collect in or on combustible surfaces or the undersides of decks and balconies, ignite the material and enter the home through walls or windows.
To harden your home even further, consider protecting your home with a residential fire sprinkler system. In addition to extinguishing a fire started by an ember that enters your home, it also protects you and your family year-round from any fire that may start in your home.