Fires can spread quickly and they’re extremely dangerous if you live near an area with flammable vegetation. If you live in a state such as California where wildfires are abounding, there are ways to prepare your home for the event of a wildfire. It’s not possible to make your home 100% fireproof; however, you can prepare to protect yourself in the event of a fire.
So, is your home protected from wildfires? The best way to protect your home from wildfires is to replace the roof, clear the immediate area and create a 100-foot perimeter around the house. This will give you maximum protection against wildfires, despite not making your home fire-proof.
Table of Contents
1. Replace The Roof Materials
Start by replacing the roof, the most dangerous part of the house. If the roof catches on fire, it can envelop your whole house and collapse it under its structural weight. The roof can contain flammable properties which make the fire spread quicker and collapse your house faster. If you live in a suburban development that doesn’t have a lot of space to create a perimeter around your house, the only thing you can do is replace the roof. Although many people think installing a sprinkler system on the rooftop is enough, this won’t help much if the material you have is not fire-resistant. Certain materials that would work for states without fires are not suitable for states prone to wildfires.
Example: Wood shingles are the most flammable. If you have wood shingles on your roof, it’s smart to replace them with asphalt shingles or metal shingles. These materials are a lot more fire-resistant and if your house catches fire by accident, the Fire Department will have time to make it to your house and save it. You should also consider tile and slate shingles. Installing rooftop sprinklers won’t do too much in a powerful wildfire. You really need to replace the core materials that resist fire. The safest materials are asphalt shingles and metal shingles.
Tip: During the autumn season, the leaves might accumulate in your roof gutters. The same applies to pine trees that drop needles in the gutters. Clean the gutters regularly or these will provide timber during a house fire.
2. Isolate The Home
The home will usually be littered with flammable items such as plastic electronics, carpets, rubber and similar materials that can blow up instantly the minute embers enter your home. They disperse everywhere during wildfires, and insulating your home to protect against easy penetration from the fire is a good way to ensure you have minimal damage.
Start by protecting the vent opening in your home which can blow up under pressure and cover them in hardware cloth. Install better and more secure doors that are fire-resistant. Replace all the missing shingles and tiles in case one of these flying embers penetrates inside and starts a giant fire. Extensive heat will melt your windows and make them crack open. This is why you should buy double-paned windows that can withstand the highest temperatures.
3. Remove Flammable Materials
Experts call this “securing the perimeter”. If you have things outside the home that could potentially inflame the home, all your insulation work goes to nothing. Something that catches fire right next to your home can spread to the home and be just as disastrous as a fire starting on the inside. You need to secure at least 5-10 feet away from your home, which is a good enough distance to keep it safe.
Tip: The biggest dangers to your home are firewood stacks. If you stack firewood during the winter, you’ll need to remove the wood or build a separate shed where you can store the wood. Other potential dangers include propane tanks and building materials. If you’ve done work on your home you’ll be tempted to leave your tools right outside it. Make sure to separate these things and/or build separate structures for flammable materials.
If your garden has plants such as pine trees and juniper plants, these are extremely flammable and dangerous. They’re also the most common plants in states like California with Mediterranean vegetation galore. These plants contain oils and resins which can raise hell on your home if they’re inflamed. Make sure to remove flammable plants from the immediate vicinity of your home, and plant them 10-20 feet away if you must have them. Many organic fertilizers can also inflame the house if they’re placed right next to the house. For example, organic mulch inflames easily and owners tend to place it right next to their house.
If you have a wood fence on the house, you should separate it with a basic metal barrier. The wood can easily ignite and then spread to fire onto the main structure.
4. Create A 100-Foot Perimeter
The defensive perimeter or the defense zone should be up to 100 feet. Some homeowners prefer a larger 200 feet perimeter, but anything from 100 feet and more will do. Wildfires emanate radiant heat which can ignite your house even if the fire is 100 feet away and if you have combustion material in between the house and the fire, this can ignite the house even faster. This is why you need to create a 100-foot perimeter or a defense area, which significantly lowers the risk of your house catching fire.
The perimeter can be as little as 30 feet and as much as 200 feet. In essence, you’re trying to clear out space in which you can defend and prevent fire from approaching your home directly. This will also give firefighters the ability to fight the fire once they arrive on the scene. To create a defensive parameter, you have to remove all potential fuel sources in the immediate area.
Don’t make the mistake of removing vegetation. Certain homeowners go overboard by removing all vegetation surrounding your home. It’s actually not recommended to remove vegetation because this makes the fire approach your home faster, and the vegetation could serve as a natural protective barrier. Instead, you should space out the plants and remove all low-hanging branches. Moreover, you should water the plants regularly as the high water content will ensure they don’t inflame as easily. If the plants don’t have water circulating in their system, the fire will spread quicker.