When the first warning comes of an approaching wildfire, you need to take action immediately. Once evacuation is recommended, however, you should leave as soon as possible. Before that recommendation comes, you should have some time to prepare to defend your home.
First, get your getaway car ready. Back your car into your garage or open space pointing in the direction of your way out for an easy escape. Gather together your emergency gear and everything you will need. Then, once you’re all ready to evacuate but the recommendation for such an action has not arrived, there are some things you can do to defend your home from the fire.
Remember: if you ever feel scared or in danger in any way, then leave! The most important thing is your safety.
Disclaimers aside, let’s get down to business (to defeat the…fires).
When you defend your home from invading fires, I’m not talking about being dressed as Gandalf standing between the fire and your house shouting, “You shall not pass!” at the approaching Balrog – er, brushfire.
Instead, you’re going to need to act as swift as a coursing river in order to prepare in time. Fires move fast, and can change direction just as quickly.
Anyway, it’s a well-known fact that water beats fire. A government document entitled Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages outlines some important steps to take. All of these suggestions assume you actually have the time to take to carry these out. If you don’t have the time, then just get out of there.
Close all your doors, windows, and vents! This will keep your home draft-free, thus preventing embers and smoke from finding open areas to infiltrate your home.
Create a defensible space around your house. Try and clear out as much dead debris as you can within 30 feet of your home. These dry, dead plants are fire fodder, so without them lying around, the fire won’t have as much fuel, thus slowing it down. Check your rain gutters, too. Clean them out and get rid of all those dead leaves, pine needles, and anything else that could feed the fire.
Another step to take to defend your home is to place your sprinklers up to 50 feet away from your house. This will increase water levels of the nearby greenery, and as we have already mentioned, water beats fire. Of course, this won’t necessarily stop the fire altogether, but it can help slow it down and reduce its heat. If you have water hoses and sprinklers to spare, you might also consider putting a sprinkler on the roof of your house. Dousing your house with water will at least give it some sort of fire deterrent.
Keep an eye on the things around your house, such as lawn furniture or potted plants. If they can burn, make sure they are far from your home. And definitely move any propane tanks near your home to a safer place.
These are just a few things to keep in mind in the event of a wildfire. Knowing how to defend your home against a raging fire doesn’t have to be as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. Your work must be swift as a coursing river, otherwise the fire could catch up to you before you know it. But above all, if you ever, for any reason, feel scared or in danger, then get out. It’s not worth risking your personal safety – or that of your family – for your belongings.
Have you ever had to defend your home from a fire? What did you do? Let us know in comments!