Recent news reports have been full of footage of devastating wildfires. These blazes can destroy homes and lives in a matter of minutes. Do you know how you would protect your home and property if the threat of a wildfire was imminent? Here are some tips to help keep your home safe should a fire break out.
Do your best to keep your property free of flammable materials. This would mean properly storing things like gasoline, paint thinners, and other household chemicals you might store in a shed or garage. You also need to properly dispose of them, and their containers, when you are done.
If you have large trees on your property, especially if they are close to your home, you should keep them trimmed back where they don’t touch the house, or have low limbs that can touch the ground. About 15 feet up is as low as you want any branches to be hanging. same goes for keeping your gutters free from tree branches, leaves, and other yard debris that can clog them, and in turn be a fire hazard. If your roof has eaves and overhangs – you will also need to make sure leaves don’t build up on them too – this could cause a fire escalate quickly.
Keep branches cut back from your chimney, and put a screen over the top to keep debris out. You want a screen made from non-flammable materials.
If you have bushes around your property – or if you are thinking about planting some – think carefully about what kinds you plant. You don’t want pine bushes really close to your home, barn, or other structures, as they can be a huge fire hazard. Also make sure that the underbrush gets cut back fairly often as well. If you have goats, they will usually munch on the underbrush, keeping it thinned out for you.
If you use a wood burning fireplace, you need to take note of where you stack and store your firewood. Obviously, you need this wood to heat your home, but you don’t want it to be a fire hazard. Choose carefully where you will stack your wood. You probably don’t want to stack it against a house or a barn. If a fire gets close – you can wet the wood down to lessen the risk of it burning.
Just like with firewood, you need to use caution when storing hay bales, too. Nothing can spell disaster for your home in a fire than a large stack of flammable hay bales. Squared bales shouldn’t be stacked more than 2 or 3 high, and round bales need some distance of a several feet between them. If fire is approaching, you can water them down to reduce flammability.
If a wildfire is threatening your home – you can also wet down the outside and roof of your home to help protect it. You could also try this with fencing, or sheds, any structure you wanted to protect. Don’t forget dog pens, chicken coops, and your barn. You want to protect your animals, too!
One final idea to help protect your home from a wildfire – take a basic firefighting course. You could do this through a junior college, or your local fire department. We have lived in 2 communities with very well staffed volunteer fire departments that did trainings for the firefighters. You might not have all the big guns to fight a large wildfire, but the things you learn will be invaluable to your family and neighbors. It could prevent loss of life, and loss of property since you’ll know the steps to take.
You can’t always escape the threat of a wildfire, but you can use the steps we listed here to make your home and property less vulnerable. How are you prepping your homestead for wildfires?