Wildfire Prep

 

 
 

Preparing is the thoughtful thing to do.

Here are a number of effective ways to help ensure you're equipped, protected, and ready for wildfires.

 

 

Before Wildfires Start

 
 

Having a practiced routine and knowing what actions to take when a wildfire strikes are vital to staying safe. Here are a few tips that can help you and your family prepare before wildfires even begin.

1. Organize a communication plan

  • Choose an out-of-town contact for all family members to get in touch with, via phone or social media, as it is sometimes easier to reach people outside of your local area during an emergency
  • Decide on a meeting place for your household members

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2. Build an emergency kit

Consider the Five Ps of Evacuation when making your kit: People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs, and Priceless Items

 
  • Water (one gallon of water per person per day)
  • Food (three-day supply of non-perishables)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Protective masks
  • Moist towelettes
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener
  • Local Maps
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Clothing
  • Extra keys
  • Cash
  • Important documents including insurance policies

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3. Establish emergency/evacuation plans

  • Know local law enforcement numbers, not just 911
  • Have two safe ways out of your neighborhood
  • When a wildfire threatens your area, evacuate early to avoid being trapped
  • If there is smoke, drive carefully.
    • º Keep headlights on
      º Watch for other vehicles and fleeing wildlife or livestock
  • Learn your community’s evacuation plan and additional escape routes in case roads are blocked
    • º Include plans to evacuate people with disabilities and others with access or functional needs, as well as pets, service animals, and livestock

    evac

     

    4. Stay tuned

    • Pay attention to phone alerts, TV/radio weather updates and emergency instructions or evacuation orders
      • º NWS issues a fire weather watch when potentially dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours

    • Join email or text alerting systems for emergency notifications
      • º To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts”
     
     

    Basic Prevention

     

    Wildfire preparedness is an attitude. It’s something that should be considered all year long. Below are some critical maintenance measures that you can get in the habit of doing to improve your safety.

    1. Clean roofs and gutters

    • Inspect these areas at least twice a year

    2. Replace any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration

    • IBHS recommends you install a Class A fire-rated roof

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    3. Repair damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows

    • Tempered glass, dual-pane windows are preferred

    4. Enclose eaves, fascias, soffits and vents to keep embers out

    • Use 1/8-inch mesh to cover vents, and box-in open eaves to create a soffited eave
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    5. Protect attachments like decks, porches and patios from ember exposure

    • Apply an exterior siding product around edges and to the bottom of the support joists
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    6. Do not connect wooden fencing directly to structures

    • New fences should be made of noncombustible or ignition-resistant materials (masonry, metal, heavy timber or fire retardant pressure treated wood)

    7. Keep firewood and storage tanks away from structures

     

    Creating Defensible Space Zones

     

    To help ensure that your property, home, and family are better protected, we now recommend that members have defensible space.

    What is defensible space?

    Defensible space is a properly maintained buffer between your property and the area surrounding it. This space will help prevent or inhibit wildfires from reaching your house, or other structures on your property, as well as give firefighters the adequate space they need.


    Zone 1 (0-30ft)

    Structure Protection: Zone 1 is the last line of defense. Keeping this space in excellent condition can lessen the intensity of a wildfire and help safeguard structures from catching on fire.

    • Mow tall grass
    • Remove leaves and dead vegetation
    • Keep lawn hydrated and maintained
    • Prune tree branches up 6 to 10 feet from the ground
    • Cut branches overhanging the roof of the house
    • Use non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content plants within five feet of your home.
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    Zone 2 (30 - 100ft)

    Fuel Reduction: Zone 2 is an important intermediate stretch that serves as a protective damper. Correctly maintaining and removing materials that encourage fires will help diminish the size and strength of an advancing wildfire and potentially divert it from your property.

    • Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees
    • Promote a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees
    • Create “fuel breaks”, like driveways, gravel walkways and lawns
    • Prune tree branches up 6 to 10 feet from the ground
    • Clear heavy accumulation of fallen branches and landscape debris
    • Plant vegetation that retains moisture and needs minimal maintenance
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    Zone 3 (100-200ft)

    Property Management: The farthest defensible space section, Zone 3 acts as the first preventative barrier to your home, or other structures on your property. Managing this outlying area will help minimize wildfire growth and promote a healthier and safer property overall.

    • Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees
    • Clear heavy accumulation of fallen branches and landscape debris
    • Replace highly-flammable species of trees and shrubs with less fire-prone species
     

    The information we share on our site is intended to serve as a general overview. Please refer to your policy or contact your local independent agent for specific coverage details.