Protect Your Home from a Wildfire
As Californians, we know the real threat of wildfires. California residents need to be more aware on how best to protect their homes from wildfires. Our wildfire risk is extremely high, especially with the severe drought conditions our state can face. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), here are some top ways to protect your property in Atherton, Redwood City, Menlo Park, and North Fair Oaks and other Bay Area cities:
Have you thinned out and maintained the vegetation around the house?
All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, therefore the greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater the protection. Create a 30-foot safety zone around the house, if possible. At a minimum, create a defensible space of 0-5 feet, and use noncombustible materials, such as gravel, brick, or concrete in this critical area adjacent to your home. Remove vines from the walls of the house, prune branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys.
Create a second zone of 100 feet reducing or replacing as much of the most flammable vegetation as possible. If you live on a hill, you may need to extend the zone for several hundred feet.
Are combustible materials away from the house? Identify all combustible materials outside the house, stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from the house. Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15feet away from the house and place a mesh screen over the grill.
Is the roof made of noncombustible materials? Materials that are fire resistant include single ply membranes, fiberglass shingles, slate, metal, clay, and concrete tile. Clean debris from roof since debris can be ignited by wind-blown embers.
Are sundecks and porches enclosed underneath? Are eaves and overhangs enclosed? Clear leaves, trash and other fire hazards away from decks and porches, extend 1/2 inch mesh screen from all overhands down to the ground. Enclose all eaves to reduce the hazard.
Clean out gutters regularly. Keep debris out of gutters, since debris can be ignited by wind-blown embers. If used, gutter covers should be non-combustible.
Are house vents covered with wire mesh? Any attic vent, soffit vent, or other opening can allow embers and flaming debris to enter a home and ignite it. Cover all openings with a 1/4 inch or smaller corrosion-resistant wire mesh. Are chimneys and stovepipes covered with spark arrestors? Use 12-gauge spark arrestors or woven wire mesh to prevent this hazard.
Is the house siding fire resistant? Stucco, metal, brick and cement, concrete and rock are all fire resistant and should be used. You can treat wood siding with UL-approved fire retardant chemicals but these treatments are not permanent.
Have windows been treated to reduce the risk? Dual or triple-paned thermal glass and fire resistant shutters or drapes, help reduce wildfire risk. Tempered glass windows and noncombustible awnings can also help reduce your risk
Dealing with the aftermath of a fire event can be a frustrating journey. SERVPRO of Palo Alto stands by ready to help you make the fire restoration process as painless as possible. If you need us, dial 650-800-3448.