Nothing says summer quite like a long stretch of weather in which there's limited rain and wall-to-wall sunshine. However, when conditions get excessively dry, it increases the risk of wildfire, oftentimes putting residents and their homes in harm's way.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways in which homeowners can prepare themselves and their properties in the event they are in the path of a potential wildfire - and it starts with a home inspection of potential risk factors that surround the house.
Thanks to the quick work of firefighters, wildfires are hopefully contained shortly after they break out. What heightens the chances of them spreading is if they have the fuel to to do it, which comes with long grass and other types of vegetation. Thus, homeowners who live in grassy or wooded areas need to be on heightened alert during wildfire season.
Establish safety zone
One of the best ways in which homeowners can better shield their homes from being affected is by creating a fire-resistant safety zone. Extending outwardly by about 100 feet from the property, the aim is to pare back as much vegetation as possible that can cause a wildfire to spread.
For example, in virtually every season, there are plenty of leaves, limbs and twigs that fall to the ground. Cleaning this up regularly not only beautifies a residence, but it has some practical benefits as well, as it helps better establish this safety zone.
As homeowners clear out vegetation and foliage surrounding their homes, there are different tasks to perform depending on how far removed they are from their residence. For example, when about 15 feet away, it's a good idea to perform some thinning of the landscape by cutting down low hanging limbs that are still attached to nearby trees. As a general rule, if the limbs and branches are within 15 feet of the ground, remove a good portion of them so that wildfires have fewer opportunities of spreading.
Something else to do within 15 feet of the home is to take out any dead tree branches, especially if they're near to the stovepipe or chimney. In other words, any type of branch or limb that comes near or extends over the roof of the residence should be pruned back so as not to put a home in jeopardy
As homeowners continue to move to the 100-foot marker from where their properties are situated, they should try to maintain the landscape so that overgrowth never becomes an issue.
For instance, mowing the grass regularly helps keep a home protected. And if homeowners use firewood to heat their homes, it should be stacked so that it's a minimum of 100 feet outside of the safety zone.
Keep gutters free of leaves, debris
There are a variety of safety precautions to take with the home itself. For example, debris can quickly pile up on or around a residence when it's in a wooded area. Homeowners should therefore try to clean their roof and gutters on a regular basis so that potential fire sources aren't a problem. Having a ladder that's tall enough to reach the roof of the house can help people indicate what, if anything, needs to be cleared away.
Inside the home, safety experts recommend checking all the smoke detectors to ensure that they're in good working order. Ideally, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends installing a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of the home, if they haven't been put into place already, and to situate them around the bedroom so that residents will better be able to hear them should they sound off at night.
USFA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have several more additional tips that homeowners can employ to better prepare for wildfire, all of which can be found at their respective websites.