Every year, wildfires burn across the United States, and a growing number of people are living where wildfires are a real risk. That's why learning wildfire preparedness is so important. In 2018 more than 58,000 fires burned nearly nine million acres across the U.S. More than 25,000 structures were destroyed, including 18,137 residences and 229 commercial structures. By working together, residents can make their property and neighborhood much safer from wildfire. Preparedness can prevent injury and death to people and animals and limit communities' damage and destruction. Since 2017, one of the worst wildfire seasons, especially in California, the push toward wildfire safety is even more critical than ever. The information below explains how to protect your home and family from wildfires.
When Is Wildfire Season?
Peak wildfire season varies by state, so where you live determines the months to be on the lookout. Wildfire preparedness starts with understanding your community's specific risks and the times of year wildfires are most likely to ignite. Typically, wildfires occur seasonally. The following locations see wildfires most often in these seasons:
Southeast and Texas: March–April
Northeast and Southwest: May–June
Pacific Northwest and Northern California: June–September
Southern California: August–October
June through August is when wildfires are at their highest point in the U.S. Stay on top of wildfire risk in your area by reviewing information from professionals for your specific city or state. While many states and regions throughout the U.S. suffer wildfire risk, some areas are more at risk for wildfires than others.
Top Ten States With The Highest Risk For Wildfires:
You may notice that the states at the highest risk for wildfires and potential damage typically experience drought conditions, have an abundance of forests, and have higher summer temperatures with lower humidity. In the United States, California is the most at-risk state for wildfires. But why are there so many fires in California? Drought, low humidity, population and forest density, ecology regulations, and past fire suppression all contribute to wildfires in California. Often a controlled burn can aid in reducing wildfire risk. Placing too much effort into suppression has now made fires commonplace in California. Combined with more droughts and higher temperatures due to climate change, the annual Santa Ana winds bring dry air into Southwest California, adding more fuel to the fire.
Reducing The Risk Of Wildfire Damage To Your Home
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are three things you must consider when protecting your home from the risk of wildfires:
1. The fire resistance of your home. Look at the construction of your home and identify areas of vulnerability: flammable roofing, decking, and single-pane windows present fire risks.
2. The topography of your property. While a professional inspection is the best way to determine how the topography of your property will affect fire risk, there is one risk you can spot on your own: if your home is at the top of a hill. Since fire spreads quicker uphill, you must clear a larger vegetation space to reduce your risk of destruction.
3. The nature of the vegetation close by. Some vegetation burns more quickly than others. You want to keep more flammable vegetation, such as grass, further from the home.
How To Prepare Your Home For Wildfire Season
While each home requires an individual plan to prepare for wildfires, there are some common tasks that every homeowner should complete to help protect their homes and families. At the very least, follow these steps to prepare for wildfire season:
- Ensure your roof is fire-resistant, as it is especially vulnerable to fire. The roof is often the most susceptible to fire. If you have a cedar shake roof, you should prioritize its replacement with a more fire-resistant material as soon as possible. Metal and tile are the most fire-resistant options, but any Class A roof will be sufficient.
- Ensure your deck is fire-resistant with thick materials and completely enclosed. Decks should be constructed with boards at least two inches wide or using fire-resistant materials. The less space between the deck and the ground, the better. Enclose any openings under the deck so embers cannot drift underneath.
- Clear a safety zone of at least 30 feet around the home, making it less likely for anything to catch a spark. The space around your home should be free of vegetation and other combustibles like wood piles or dried leaves for at least 30 feet. Then, clear a second zone up to 100 feet away from your home for added protection. In this zone, reduce or replace flammable vegetation with fire-resistant vegetation as much as possible.
- Replace single-pane windows for more heat protection. Fire can heat windows and ignite drapes and other materials inside. To help prevent this, you should replace single-pane windows with dual-pane or even triple-pane windows. Adding fire-resistant shutters can also help keep your interior protected.
- Create a wildfire preparedness plan and walk through it with your family. Make a family emergency plan that walks every family member through what they must do if a wildfire gets near your home. This plan should include possible escape routes, meeting points, and an emergency preparedness kit with all the essentials you'll need if you must evacuate. Practice your plan until everyone feels comfortable with what they should do if a wildfire is imminent.
Recover From Wildfire Damage To Your Home
Preparing for a wildfire before one even strikes can make all the difference between destruction and safety. In the unfortunate event that you do experience any damage caused by wildfires, call on ServiceMaster Restore. Our fire damage restoration services can help you through crisis resolution in the shortest time possible. With our expert knowledge, innovative technologies, and comprehensive clean-up, we can get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. If you're worried about wildfire damage repairs or if your home has been damaged due to fires, find a ServiceMaster Restore location today and get help.