This is the first installation in our three part series on wildfires. Check out the second part about preparation here and the third part about evacuation here.

Wildfires are dangerous and impressive natural disasters that are a serious threat to homes and their inhabitants. They move extremely fast and can cause immense and sometimes irreplaceable amounts of damage. They can occur at anytime, anywhere, but they are more likely to be seen during periods of drought and dry weather; high winds also contribute to the spread of the fire. They can start naturally due to lightning or other natural cycles, but many times they are caused by human activity. Dangerous habits like carelessly throwing away burning cigarettes or leaving outdoor campfires unmonitored can quickly turn into a sudden disaster that threatens the homes and lives of all in the area.

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Prevention is key to decreasing the damage and risks of a wildfire. Safe practices and respect for the destructive power of wildfires protects your home, your neighbors, and your family.

General Wildfire Counter Measures

  • If you are designing your home, try to choose building materials that are more resistant to fire.
  • Install monitored fire alarms on every level of your house. These will notify the authorities as soon as possible to ensure that help is dispatched, even when no one is around to hear the alarm or call the police.
  • When choosing landscaping options, opt for plants that are better at restraining oncoming fires over highly flammable plants. Fire-resistant plants typically have moist and supple leaves, little dead wood or accumulated dead material within the plant, and water-like sap. Most deciduous trees and shrubs are fire-resistant.
  • Regularly clean your roof and gutters to get rid of the dead leaves, pine cones, and twigs that like to collect there.
  • Remove dead plants, dried grass, and pulled weeds from your lawn.
  • Create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around your house where there are few trees spread far apart and a well kept and cleaned lawn. Houses in pine forests need to have a safety zone of at least 100 feet.
  • Keep your trees trimmed. Their branches should be over ten feet away from other branches.
  • There should not be any branches in a 15 foot radius around your chimney.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house.

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Good Practices

  • Never leave an outdoor fire unattended
  • Store gasoline and other extremely flammable objects in approved safety cans away from the base of the house.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away from your house in an uphill direction.
  • Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes. Make sure they are completely put out before disposing of them. The best practice is simply not to smoke while camping or when near the trees.

Preventing wildfires is a community effort. Share this with your neighbors and talk to them about wildfire safety practices and prevention. If you don’t already have a monitored fire alarm system installed in your home, call Protect America today at 1-888-951-5136.