BUILDING CONSTRUCTION AND SAFETY DEVICES
When it comes to the materials of your home, you might have had no say if the house was already built before you purchased it. However, any upgrades, repairs, additions, or new structures can include fire-fighting materials like those listed here will be under your control:
• Roofs: Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials whenever possible. Alternatively, treat any combustible materials (like wood shingles) with fire-retardant chemicals. Make sure they have been evaluated thoroughly by a recognized organization such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Exteriors: This includes your decks, sidings, trims and other related material. Treat them the same way you do the roof. Take special care if you have an home covered with ivy or other clinging vines— though they can be pretty, it is a fire hazard you may want to consider removing.
• Gutters: Keep your gutters clear of debris, especially in the fall when leaves can pile up.
• Chimneys and fireplaces: Inspect and clean them thoroughly every year. Make sure that if a wildfire spark entered, it wouldn’t ignite anything.
• Shutters: Install protective, fire resistant shutters if you live in a high risk area. Inside, you may want to consider adding heavy fire-proof drapes or curtains. Along with using fire-resistant materials, make sure you have these basic fire-safety devices in your home.
• Smoke alarms: These should be on every level of your home. Select dual-sensors. Change the batteries regularly.
• Fire extinguishers (ABC types): Keep them handy, in working order, and make sure everyone in the household knows how to use them correctly. (Curious about that ABC? A is for paper, wood, and plastic fires, B covers gas and grease fires, and the C means the chemicals in your extinguisher will handle electrical fires without blowback shocks to you)
• Fire emergency equipment: Axes, rakes, buckets, shovels, and hand or chain saws. These will help you fight small fires on your own and equip firefighters battling a larger blaze.
• Ladders: Always have one that is capable of reaching the tallest structure on your property, including the roof of your house, so that you’ll be able to douse a blown spark if it comes in.
You should also consider what you put around your home. This doesn’t mean your actual landscape, but the lawn and garden accessories you have out.
This could be lawn chairs, other patio or lawn furniture, your BBQ grill, or your children’s play set. These can all feed a fire and provide fuel for a passing blaze if you’re not careful.
Replace the tarps covering vehicles in the driveway, trailers or barbecues with inflammable ones whenever possible. Keep your barbecue and its fuel tanks in a safe place.
Don’t leave wooden furniture pieces sitting out during wildfire season. Store them safely or buy ones constructed of fire-retardant materials.