Use IBHS Resources to Reduce Wildfire Risk of Home or Business

The Colby Fire near Los Angeles, California has forced more than 3,600 people to evacuate, highlighting the importance of preparing your property now to be more resistant  to wildfire.  

The fast-moving Colby Fire has burned more than 1,700 acres outside Glendora since igniting Thursday morning, reports the U.S. Forest Service, and the fire has destroyed at least five homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued red flag warnings earlier this week in several areas of Southern California due to Santa Ana winds moving through the region. High winds and warm temperatures are expected to remain throughout the weekend, and no precipitation is expected for at least one week.  

The fire comes as many locations in California reported 2013 as the driest on record, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of January 7, 94 percent of California was experiencing some form of drought, while 22 percent of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

"It is critical that individuals and communities vulnerable to wildfire act now to reduce their risks," said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). "Property owners can use IBHS’ effective risk-reduction tools to build what is essentially a 'self-defense' system for their property during a wildfire. By doing so, they can evacuate if necessary and still hope to find their home or business intact after a fire moves through the area."

Prepare your home or business now using guidance below to reduce your wildfire risks. Additional wildfire resources are available at http://www.disastersafety.org/wildfire/.

DETERMINE YOUR RISK

Use IBHS’ Wildfire Home Assessment & Checklist, which provides guidance to identify possible wildfire risks, and resources on how to build defensible space on your property. In addition, the checklist provides a cost estimator that helps you prioritize which actions will work within your budget.

CREATE DEFENSIBLE SPACE

Creating defensible space surrounding your home or business can reduce the risk of a fire getting too close to your home or business. IBHS urges property owners to maintain defensible space in three separate zones, paying particular attention to the 0-5 ft. and 5-30 ft. zones closest to your building. This includes carefully maintaining trees and shrubbery, as well as using noncombustible materials that will reduce your wildfire risks.

Additional defensible space guidance can be found at http://www.disastersafety.org/wildfire/defensible_space/.

REDUCE DECK RISKS

The items you place on top of the deck, store beneath it, and the construction materials used to build it are all factors that can increase your wildfire risk. Find out if the following are increasing your risks:

  • Have leaves or other dried vegetation accumulated in the gaps between the deck boards? If so, clean out these areas.
  • Do you have firewood, flammable liquids or other combustibles (think paint cans) stored on top of or underneath the deck? If so, relocate these at least 30 ft. away.
  • Does your deck attach to the house or nearby fence? Consider installing metal flashing to create a barrier that would help stop the fire from igniting siding or fencing, if the deck were to catch fire.

Additional guidance on protecting your home’s deck, patio, or porch can be found at http://www.disastersafety.org/disastersafety/decks-patios-porches/.

Follow IBHS on Twitter at @DisasterSafety and on Facebook for how-to projects to make your home more resistant to a variety of natural hazards.

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