Wildfire Preparedness: More Important Than Ever in 2021
The amount of burned area has increased across the United States over the past two decades, and 2020 was particularly damaging. Last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, 58,950 wildfires burned about 10.1 million acres. 2021 is off to an even worse start; through May 13, 2021, there have been 20,780 wildfires compared with 14,890 in the same period in 2020.
Verisk’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis revealed that more than 2.5 million homes outside of California had been identified as “high or extreme risk of wildfire.” Although the Golden State is notorious for wildfires, the threat is real in many other states as well.
Wildfire Preparedness – Your Home and Property
Just about everyone has heard Smokey the Bear proclaim, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” but he’s also now saying the same thing about wildfires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are steps you can take in and around your home to prevent or minimize damage to your home due to a wildfire. Here are ten of them:
o Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
o Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
o Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
o Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck, or porch.
o Wildfire can spread to treetops. Prune trees, so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
o Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
o Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for a fire.
o Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
o Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
o Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
Wildfire Preparedness – You and Your Family
Now that you or your landscaper have taken care of the outside of your home, and you or a handyman have inspected and made adjustments inside the home, you’ll want to make sure that your biggest asset is prepared and protected: your family.
Once your residence is potentially in the path of a wildfire, and you’ve been told to evacuate, it’s too late to coordinate with your family members the next steps to be taken to ensure that everyone is safe and together.
Per the NFPA, some planning and discussion your family needs to have include:
o Discuss what to do in an evacuation, and don’t forget to include the needs of those with disabilities.
o When told by officials, go immediately to a shelter as instructed or to the home of a friend or relative who lives out of the area. Find out about your local shelters beforehand.
o Know evacuation routes. Pre-establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.
o Family members can become separated during an emergency. Be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or friend) who can coordinate family members’ locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
o Quiz children every six months, so they remember what to do, where to go, and whom to call in an emergency.
o Decide how to take care of pets. Pets are not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.
o Post emergency phone numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) by the phone.
If your property is insured through Kelly Klee, you can rest assured that in the event of a wildfire, we stand ready to help. If you have any questions concerning your coverage, please call us at (844) 885-1600.