This winter’s unseasonably mild and dry weather pattern is causing an alarmingly increased risk for wildfire prompting a national warning for residents to take action to prevent damage from wildfire. States such as Colorado, Tennessee and New York are already seeing the reality of these dangerous conditions.
“The unusually dry and windy weather at this time of year means that wildfires pose a greater threat to individual properties and neighborhoods across the U.S.,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager. “It’s simply easier, in these conditions, for fires to start and burn out of control. But residents can do their part and take simple steps today to lessen the risk of damage if a wildfire occurs.”
While these states continue to recover from the devastating effects of recent wildfires, now is the time for residents across the country to prepare themselves and protect their homes from brush, grass and forest fire damage. Contrary to common perception, a wildfire does not have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing property of debris and maintaining landscaping are important, yet simple, first steps for homeowners. Representatives from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Communities Program are working to spread the word on how people can make instant and long-term changes to protect their homes and property against wildfire.
Below are additional actions residents can take to reduce the risk of home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire — actions that have saved communities, such as those in South Gulf Cove in Florida.
Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
Keep lawns hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
Remove flammable materials within 3-5 feet of the home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch the house, deck or porch.
Limit vegetation surrounding a home, at least 30-100 feet, depending on the area’s wildfire risk. The
Firewise Guide to Landscaping can help distinguish the best vegetation based on distance to the home or structure.
When wildfire spreads to tree tops, the fire can become more dangerous and reach homes quicker. If there are large trees on the property, prune so the lowest branches are 6-10 feet from the ground.
Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.
Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information. Firewise landscaping and plants lists also are available on the Firewise website.
Those interested in making a lasting change to their home can consider a Firewise construction approach, which means less-flammable materials for homes, decks, porches and fences. This includes using Class-A roofing materials such as asphalt shingles and metal, cement and concrete products. Double-paned or tempered glass windows also make a home more resistant to heat and flames.
Learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage at www.Firewise.org. Additionally, complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the information and resources page of the website and ordered online through the Firewise catalog.