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May Is Fire Preparedness Month

A poster declaring May as Wildfire Awareness Month with an image of a forest fire.
Image: Forest fire; Image text: May is Wildfire Awareness Month

May 3, 2022

May is Fire Preparedness Month, so we’re taking this opportunity to share important resources about fire safety and prevention. Being prepared for fires can help you, your family, and the community stay safe in case of an emergency.

Although wildfires can happen any time of the year in the Greater Portola area, many people don’t properly prepare for this kind of emergency. They might not know the importance of fire preparedness or the steps they should take to prepare for fires. We’re here to change that. In this blog post, we’ll share valuable information about protecting your home against fires, preventing wildfires, and more.

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Home From Wildfires

According to The Home Hardening Company, a wildfire home defense specialist, there were 8,619 fire incidents in California in 2021. They also state that 3,629 structures were damaged or destroyed by fires and an estimated 2,569,009 acres were burned throughout California in 2021. When you look at the statistics, it makes sense why it’s so important to protect your home and family against wildfires.

Due to California’s weather and landscape, wildfires are a natural part of the environment. Wildfires can occur year-round in the Greater Portola area – especially during fire season – so defending your home from fires can give you peace of mind.

Home hardening, also known as fireproofing your home, can help keep your family safe from wildfires. It also reduces the risk of fires damaging or destroying your home, property, and belongings. Beyond that, it helps keep the community safe since it reduces the chances of wildfires spreading.

How to Harden or Fireproof Your Home

Home hardening consists of using fire-resistant materials to shield your home from fires and windblown embers as well as creating a “buffer zone” around your home. You can either hire a professional to harden your home or take on the project yourself. Whichever option you choose, make sure that your home is protected in these ways:

  • Walls – Don’t use wood products as siding materials. Instead, use ignition-resistant materials such as fiber cement or stucco.
  • Windows – Large and single-paned windows are prone to breaking when exposed to heat from fires. You can defend your home against fires by installing dual-paned windows with a pane of tempered glass, limiting the number and size of windows near vegetation, and installing window screens.
  • Roof – We wouldn’t recommend using shingles or wood for your roof. It’s best to use clay, metal, tile, or composition instead.
  • Decks – Make sure that your decks are made out of fire-resistant materials – especially the parts that are closest to your home. Get rid of any combustible materials underneath your decks.
  • Chimney – Cover the chimney with a metal screen that has 3/8” – 1/2” openings. During fire season, cover the chimney flue when the chimney isn’t being used.
  • Vents – Cover all vents with metal mesh that has 1/16” – 1/8” openings. This will help prevent windblown embers from entering your house through the vents.
  • Garage – The garage is a great place to store supplies that could come in handy in case of a wildfire. We’d recommend having a fire extinguisher, hose, bucket, shovel, and rake. Also, remember to keep any flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources.
  • Property – Create a “buffer zone” approximately 30 feet around your home to keep it protected against wildfires. Reduce or remove any flammable furniture, vegetation, debris, or combustible fuels within this area.

In addition to these tips, we highly recommend having multiple hoses that are long enough to reach every part of your house and property. It’s also best to trim branches overhanging your home’s roof and chimney, keep your property well-maintained during fire season, and clear any plant debris (such as leaves) from your roof, rain gutters, decks, and patio covers.

Follow Proper Burning Practices

Make sure to learn before you burn! We provide burning information to the Greater Portola community, including tips on burning, alternatives to burning, and guidelines for outdoor burning. Please look over this information to ensure you’re always following best burning practices. This can help prevent wildfires from starting in our community.

We Help the Greater Portola Area Stay Safe and Informed

The Northern Sierra Air Management District is here to keep the Greater Portola area safe, healthy, and informed. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive important news regarding air quality and fire safety. Also, remember to regularly check our blog and website to stay updated about burn day status, current air quality, and more.

Even though Fire Preparedness Month only happens in May, we hope you learned something valuable that you can use to keep you and your family safe year-round!

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