When you think of dangerous fires, your mind likely associates them with your home, office or other structures. But wildfires have become a devastating force of nature leaving millions of people displaced or evacuated from their homes.
Nearly 45 million homes abut or intermingle with wildlands and more than 72,000 U.S. communities are now at risk of wildfires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But how do you know if you fall into this category?
One way to know is to contact your local planning and zoning office to find out if your home is in a wildfire risk area, and if there are specific local or county ordinances you should be following.
If you are part of a homeowners association, work corroboratively to identify regulations that incorporate preparedness landscaping, home design and building material use.
You can also talk to your local fire department about how to prepare and when to evacuate in the event of a wildfire. The more prepared you and your neighbors are, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding injury during a wildfire.
Here are some preparedness tips from the NFPA:
To prevent embers from igniting your home, clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks.
Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
Remove flammable materials within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings.
Wildfires can spread to tree tops, so prune your trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained, as dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
Wildfires generate media attention, so stay tuned to your local news stations for the latest updates on wildfire activity. If your neighborhood or region is under an evacuation order, be sure to follow the guidance of your local officials. The NFPA recommends leaving as early as possible, even before you’re told to evacuate. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment.