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Preventing Damage From Wildfires

Nov 14, 2007
If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, such as certain areas of California, you should do what you can to protect your home from them. While it may seem pretty hopeless once a wildfire is on a path that will go straight through your home, there are some things that you can do to try and minimize the damage.

The first thing that you can do if you own your home is to outfit it with fire resistant materials. The roof is perhaps the most important surface that you should take care of, since it is the largest surface of the home that is exposed to sparks of fire that have become airborne. If there is a wildfire near your house, you should take your water hose and keep the roof wet as much as possible to stop this threat.

Fire-resistant roofing materials are large in number and include tile, metal, and fiberglass. Any oil-based roofing material should be replaced and wooden shingles are a disaster waiting to happen.

Fire-resistant materials should also be used to build the walls and windows of the house, since this can impede the spreading of the fire to the interior. Stone, metal, and brick offer a decent amount of protection, but vinyl siding and wood provide extremely little. The windows are important because heat will radiate inside the house and possibly set drapes on fire, so having smaller windows in homes that are at risk is a good idea.

Another thing that you can do to your lawn if a wildfire is nearby is wetting it with the water hose. This can also slow the fire's spread to your house some. Do not allow dead leaves and other debris to build up in the yard during wildfire season and try to get rid of any tree branches that are hanging over your house.

You can even go as far as to have these trees that are close to your home removed, but that is a personal preference. It will help, but some people may not want to sacrifice them.

If you have to evacuate, realize that you cannot take everything with you. Take only the most important valuables and get out as soon as you can. If you have time and are leaving voluntarily, take the opportunity to wet your yard, roof, and the exterior of your house again. This is pretty much all you can do at this point and the rest is in the hands of nature.
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Jim Corkern is a writer and promoter of
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