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Wildfire preparation checklist

Fire can move incredibly fast and cause devastating damage. Getting your home prepared for a wildfire or housefire can make a difference.

Person fighting a wildfire

Prepare your home

  • Make sure your address number on your mailbox or house are at least four inches tall against a contrasting background and is visible for at least 150 feet in all directions. This is so your home can be easily located by emergency officials.
  • Remove vegetation around your home and chimney. Prune tree branches to 10 feet above the ground, and regularly mow your lawn and remove debris.
  • Install smoke alarms in every room.
  • Install a fully-charged fire extinguisher on each floor of the house.
  • Keep a garden hose that’s long enough to reach all areas of the house, and be ready to fill garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water.
  • Have a ladder nearby that’s tall enough to reach your roof so you can check for hot spots and wet it to prevent flying embers from igniting.
  • Store anything combustible or flammable, like gasoline or liquid propane gas, in approved safety containers well away from the house.
  • Regularly remove leaves and other debris from gutters.
  • Move potentially combustible items such as lawn furniture, umbrellas, tarp coverings, and flags away from the house.
  • Clear any combustible materials such as mulch, vegetation, construction materials and move any sheds from within five feet of the house.
  • 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).
  • Make copies of all important documents (passport, driver's license, birth certificate, financial documentation, auto registration, property deeds, will, etc.) and keep copies with your out-of-area contact.
  • Create an organized photo catalog of your belongings on your smartphone.

What to do after a fire

  • Wear a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) certified respirator and wet any debris down to minimize exposure to dust particles.
  • Don’t use any water that may have been contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, or to make ice or baby formula.
  • Check the roof and attic immediately for any hot spots, sparks or embers.
  • Continue rechecking the house and yard for burning embers for at least 12 hours.
  • Document any damage to your property for insurance claims purposes.

What to do next

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