How to Avoid Home Fires During Drought
April 20, 2022
How to Avoid Home Fires During Drought
During times of drought, home fires become more common, especially due to wildfires. The growth of human development in wildlands is a particular problem in California. The most at-risk areas are at the wildland-urban interface (WUI), where wildfires increasingly threaten manufactured structures. In 2020, such fires caused $4.2 billion in direct property damage in California alone, causing most of the civilian fire-related deaths reported here, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
If your area is prone to wildfires and other effects of drought, it’s important to have fire insurance. But to avoid or reduce the risks of fire in your home:
Stay on Top of Vehicle Maintenance
Proper vehicle maintenance can avoid sparks that ignite fires. If a muffler or exhaust pipe is loose, have it repaired; the friction of metal contacting the road or other surfaces can start a fire as well. Tools and chains should not be dragged from the rear of the car either. Also, maintain proper tire inflation, and don’t start your car where there’s dry and brittle grass. Vehicle exhaust is more than hot enough to start a brush fire.
Follow All Burning Ordinances
Some cities don’t allow any burning within the city limits. To obey the law and improve your safety, do not burn trash, brush, or leaves outdoors. Any small fire can quickly get out of control in dry, windy conditions. Also follow safe cooking practices; if grilling, maintain a 10-foot brush-free zone around an outdoor grill and propane tank. Never leave the grill unattended and, after you’re done, place the ashes in a metal bucket and soak them in water.
Maintain Your Landscaping
When tending to your landscaping, use only fire-resistant species of trees and plants. Prune trees and shrubs so they don’t contact stovepipes, chimney outlets, and other heat sources. Keep your landscape free of dead limbs that are more prone to ignition. In addition, regularly rake and mow your lawn.
Create Defensible Space Zones
Defensible space is a buffer that can reduce the risk of your home catching fire. It can also prevent a home fire from starting due to embers, radiant heat, or direct contact with flames. There are three zones extending a total of 100 feet from your home or to the property line.
These zones include:
- Zone 0: Not required by law, Zone 0 extends 5 feet from a structure, including areas under and around attached decks. Per Board of Forestry and Fire Protection regulations, avoid using combustible bark or mulch in this area and make sure to remove all dead and dying plant matter. Plants here should be low-growing and nonwoody as well as be property watered and maintained. If you have combustible fencing, gates, or arbors attached to your home, replace them with noncombustible materials. Garbage/recycling containers, vehicles, and other combustible items should be relocated outside this zone.
- Zone 1: Within 30 feet from buildings, remove all dead vegetation, dead/dry leaves, branches, and pine needles, including from the roof, yard, and gutters. Also, remove branches that hang over the roof. Trees should be trimmed so that branches are at least 10 feet from other trees. Wood piles should be moved outside this zone, while flammable plants near windows should be removed or pruned. If there are flammable items around and under decks, stairs, or balconies, remove them and separate anything that can catch fire from woodpiles, patio furniture, and other items.
- Zone 2: Between 30 and 100 feet from your house, keep the grass to a maximum of 4 inches high; remove fallen leaves, twigs, small branches, bark, and other materials to a depth of no more than 3 inches; and leave at least 10 feet of clearance around exposed wood piles (with material removed down to bare soil). Vertical clearance between the top of a shrub and the lowest tree branch should be 6 feet or 3x the height of the shrub. Horizontal clearance on a less than 20% slope should be at least 10 feet between trees; between shrubs, it should be 2x the height of the shrubs.
On a 20% to 40% slope, the recommended distance between trees increases to 20 feet and 4x the height of shrubs. For slopes greater than 40%, trees should be 30 feet apart. Shrubs should be spread to a distance of 6x their height.
Has Your Home Been Damaged by Fire? Call Restorerz Today
Home fires cause a devastating amount of damage. Restorerz specializes in fire and smoke restoration to help stop corrosion, smoke damage, and continued release of smoke odor molecules after a fire. We provide a range of cleaning services including water and flood damage cleanup. To get started, you can reach us 24/7 by requesting service online or calling 323-366-3390 today.