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8 Steps to Protect Your Home From Wildfires

You have been hearing a lot of talk recently (and hopefully read some of my articles) about wildfires and how they are impacting both homeowners premiums and also insurance availability. While insurance prices are rising with every company, some insurance companies are declining to insurance homes they deem to be in an area with the potential for wildfires or smoke damage.

Climate change has created warmer, drier weather conditions in the United States, leading to an increasing number of wildfires. Wildfires are unplanned fires that start in natural areas, but as they spread, they can put human communities at risk.

When a wildfire burns, embers—pieces of burning material—can be carried several miles by the wind and ignite additional fires. Wildfire smoke can travel much farther, affecting the air quality hundreds of miles away.

Wildfire embers that travel on the wind can land on your home, landscaping, and other flammable materials such as fences and sheds. You don’t have to be in the line of the fire for that ember to cause damage to your home.

Even if you live several miles from the fire, the wind could carry an ember onto your property, and embers sometimes smolder for hours before igniting the surrounding materials. Take the following steps to limit the risk to your home and property.

  1. Create a fire-resistant zone around your home. If any tree branches hang over your home, porch, or within ten feet of your chimney, trim them back. If you have a picnic table, wood pile, or fuel tank, be sure they are at least 30 feet from any structures or fences.
  2. Remove any debris. Clean away any dry, flammable materials, such as leaf litter and pine needles from your deck, roof, and gutters.
  3. Move patio furniture and other flammable décor indoors. To prevent your patio furniture, cushion, door mat, or potted plants from fueling a fire, move them inside your home or garage or as far from your home as possible.
  4. Check beneath your porch or deck. Never store flammable materials under your deck or porch. If you have anything there now, move it more than 30 feet from your home.
  5. Check your vents. Cover any openings to your home with metal mesh (1/8 mesh size) to prevent an ember from getting inside.
  6. Check your roof. If you find any loose or missing shingles, replace or repair them. Don’t let leaf litter accumulate on ridges and roof valleys.
  7. Trim your yard vegetation. Mow your lawn to a height of four inches, and trim back any plants beneath trees so that if they burn, they don’t ignite the tree’s branches.
  8. Prepare a hose. Connect a hose that’s long enough to reach any area of your property to an outdoor water source.

The more you know about wildfire risks, the more you’ll be able to prepare ahead of time to prevent smoke and embers from damaging your home. Make it a part of your routine to monitor your home and yard and mitigate any potential fire hazards—and talk to your neighbors about wildfire risks to help protect your local community.

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