As we’ve all seen, wildfire season has been devastating within the past year alone. The frequency and severity of these wildfires in the US have grown exponentially to a place we’ve never seen before. According to the US Forest Service’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis, more than 4.5 million homes in the western US are currently at high or extreme risk of wildfire exposure. Now more than ever it’s important for all homeowners to take necessary precautions in protecting their homes as much as possible from the potential threat of wildfires, here are some measures one can take:
Clear Your Rook and Deck: Burning embers from smaller fires that float down from the plumes of smoke in the sky are a major threat to homes and other structures that aren’t protected. It only takes one ember to ignite a pile of dead leaves on a roof or deck that can prompt the entire house to then go up in flames. In the warmer wildfire season especially, one should be keeping their deck/porch swept of all dirt and debris as well as their rook. If you live in a wildfire prone area, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting asphalt shingles, clay or concrete tiles, metal, and/or slate roofing as all of those are fire resistant.
Keep Embers Out Of Vents: Open eaves, vents, and other areas of exposure can also be extremely vulnerable to ember exposure, so make sure you have all openings from the outside of your home screened/sealed off. If your home has a pet door make sure it has a proper seal that can keep it closed during fire season/when it’s not in use.
Create A Plan For Emergency Responder Access: In case of emergency, you need to ensure that firefighters and other law enforcement employees are able to gain access to your home should you and your loved ones need help. Make sure your street names and numbers are clearly marked and legible from a distance. Make your specific address number prominently known on the outside of your property. If you have a driveway, try to keep it as cleared out and open as possible should a firetruck need access, as well as other areas of access into the home.
Collaborate With Neighbors: If you’re in a wildfire prone area on the west coast of the US you should be talking to your neighbors about what the plan is should your neighborhood need to evacuate or respond to an emergency situation. There’s a multitude of online resources wildfire-prone communities can access to keep them better prepared for the future. Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a company whose main purpose is literally creating guides for communities to keep them prepared.
Firewise USA is a program run by the NFPA that empowers homeowners and residents all across the country to increase their ignition risks in their homes and communities. Currently the program has over 1,500 active sites in 42 states that they run out of.
The NFPA also created a prep day to raise community awareness on wildfire risk that they call the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. This day is full of useful information, techniques, drills, supplies, etc. that can better prepare any homeowner for future wildfires. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of this day’s activities and information workshops aren’t able to occur in person, however, the NFPA created an online toolkit that anyone can access at any time to give themselves a refresher on wildfire prevention.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.