Wildfires know no season. They may start from natural causes such as lightning or be set by an arsonist or a careless smoker. Once started, they can move fast, threatening lives, property and the environment.
Whether you live in an area especially prone to wildfires or one where they are fairly rare, the potential for near-total devastation emphasizes the importance of taking as many precautions as possible. You may not be able to prevent a wildfire, but there are many things you can do to reduce potential damage.
- Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of your house and near other structures on your property, with one or more additional outlets at least 50 feet from the house.
- Store any combustible or flammable materials- such as gasoline- in approved safety containers well away from the house.
- Regularly clear leaves and other debris from the gutters.
- Move potentially combustible items such as lawn furniture, umbrellas, tarp coverings and flags away from the house. Be sure to stack firewood at least 30 feet away from any structure.
- Ensure that the dampers in your chimney and stovepipes are working and cleaned annually. Consider equipping your chimney and stovepipes with a spark arrester approved by the National Fire Protection Association.
- Install quarter-inch mesh screens on vents; louvers; entrances to attics and crawl spaces; and beneath decks, porches and the house itself (if it is not on a solid foundation).
- Do not smoke near dry leaves or grass. Never leave a burning cigarette unattended, and be sure that it is completely extinguished when you are finished.
- Do not build a fire near trees or bushes. Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is completely out before walking away. To ensure that a fire is extinguished, soak the ashes with water and bury them.
- Sparks from the exhaust system of your car can start a fire. If you travel through fire-prone areas frequently, you may want to consider a spark arrester.