Wildfires can occur anywhere across the U.S., given the right conditions. That’s why learning wildfire preparedness, no matter where you live, is so important. Preparedness can prevent injury and death to people and animals, plus limit the amount of damage and destruction that communities face.
Since 2017 was one of the worst wildfire seasons ever seen, especially in California, the push toward wildfire safety is more critical than ever. Are you in an area that has a wildfire risk, and when are you most likely to see the effects of wildfires? Learn how to protect your home and family from wildfires with the information below.
When is Wildfire Season?
Peak wildfire season does vary by state, so where you live determines what months to be on the lookout. Wildfire preparedness starts with understanding your community's specific risks and the times of year that 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 when wildfire risk is high in your area by reviewing information for your specific city or state from professionals.
Areas At Most Risk For Wildfires
While there are many states and areas throughout the U.S. that suffer from wildfire risk, there are areas that are more at risk for wildfires than others. Specifically, there are 10 states that have the highest level of wildfire risk when compared to the rest of the U.S. These states are:
You may notice that the states that are at highest risk for wildfires and potential damage are those that typically experience drought conditions, have an abundance of forests, and 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 led to fires in California being commonplace. 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:
- The fire resistance of your home. Look at the construction of your home and identify areas of vulnerability. Flammable roofing materials, decking materials, and single-pane windows all present fire risks.
- 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 will need to clear a larger space of vegetation to reduce your risk of destruction.
- The nature of the vegetation close by. Some vegetation burns more easily 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 their families. At the very least, follow these steps to prepare for wildfire season:
- Make sure your roof is fire-resistant, as it is especially vulnerable to fire. The roof is often the most vulnerable 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 thick or using materials that are fire-resistant. The less space you have 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 most 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 up windows and ignite drapes and other materials inside. To help prevent this, you should replace single-pane windows with dual-pane windows 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 need to do if a wildfire gets close to 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 to resolution in the shortest amount of time possible. With our expert knowledge, innovative technologies, and comprehensive clean-up, we can get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.