Wildfire season is upon us, and unfortunately, the scale of devastation is a lot worse than it was last year and the one before. More than 400 wildfires are currently burning across Canada, with the wind carrying smoke hundreds of miles towards America, placing more than 100 million people in America under cautionary air quality alerts.
This has come about due to a plethora of reasons: call it a killer combo of weather-related factors. Not only are the already devastating effects of climate change only getting worse due to our incessant burning of fossil fuels, but we're also about to enter some of the hottest few years on record due to El Nino, the natural climate pattern that drives hotter weather around the world.
Although Canada is having its moment with wildfires currently, the United States' wildfire season is coming up soon, which is exactly why we've compiled some measures you can take to safeguard your home from wildfires ahead of time!
8 Tips to Safeguard Your Home During Wildfire Season
Let's begin with the kinds of proactive measures you could take to protect your property from wildfires on the outside of your home ahead of time. Here are our tips, based on advice recommended by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency:
1. Safeguard Your Roof
Did you know that the roof is the most vulnerable part of your home when it comes to wildfires? This is because of the size and orientation of that area. Here's a few things you should do to make sure you are safeguarded when it comes to your roof:
- Always clean and remove debris from the roof or from your gutters, as any leftover debris can catch on fire from embers.
- Make sure your roof is built with a Class A-rated covering (the highest resistance to fire), with noncombustible materials including concrete, clay, metal or fiberglass, as opposed to wood.
- Install or replace the eaves on your roof with short overhangs and flat ledges, so that embers from wildfires don't get the chance to latch on to your roof. An ‘eave' is the area where the roof extends beyond the walls of the building just a little, so that area needs to be made smaller to fight the potential flames.
2. Install Wall Coverings and Cover Vents/Gaps
For the most part, you need to make sure your wall coverings are made of fire-resistant materials, and you need to make sure to seal any gaps between the interior of the house and the outside. Here's how:
- Seal any gaps in the walls or roofs, especially in the corners, with caulk, mortar or any fire-protective foam. If the gaps are rather large, you could use a material called “heat-expanding sealant” or fire-resistance sheets/pillows.
- Cover any exterior attic vents and under-eave vents in your house with tightly packed metal wire mesh to keep embers from floating out.
- You can also incorporate a fire block between the upper part of the walls and the house's foundation. This measure can ultimately deprive any potential fire of oxygen, effectively impeding its ability to spread.
- FEMA recommends that your home's exterior wall coverings be built with fire-resistant materials, particularly a minimum fire-resistance rating of one hour. That basically means that these materials can resist catching fire for one whole hour!
3. Plan Access to Water
This is a super important tip that could save you and your loved ones during wildfire season: Acquire and set up external sprinkler systems that have their own power sources or utilize a water tank, especially if there is no accessible water supply nearby.
Establish connections with garden hoses of sufficient length to cover all sections of the house, and ensure water reservoirs like garbage cans, tubs, or other sizable containers are filled with water. If you have the water supply in check, you could act fast if a wildfire were to creep up onto your home.
4. Enclose Your Foundation and Create Defensible Space
Make sure the foundation of your home is all sealed and enclosed, but also create 30 feet of ‘defensible space' around your home in the exterior. This means minimizing or eliminating flammable plants, and eliminating any combustible materials from your outdoor area, while utilizing noncombustible materials like gravel, brick, or concrete in that space.
PRO TIP: Do not allow your grass to grow more than four inches tall! This makes it less likely to catch fire easily, especially if you always water your landscaping.
5. Get Your Insurance In Check!
Unfortunately, most of our homes include lots of flammable materials in them, such as furniture made out of wood and smaller items made of plastic, so there isn't much to do on the inside that will stop a fire from spreading, however there are a few measures you can take that can still make the process of evacuating a lot safer and easier.
Firstly, you should assess your insurance policy by dedicating a few minutes to review it. This step helps you understand your homeowners or mobile home insurance coverage, enabling a smoother claims process and faster recovery after a wildfire.
You should also prepare or update a detailed inventory of your home's most precious contents. Having a comprehensive record of your belongings facilitates an easier and smoother insurance claims procedure.
Consider doing this visually, either through photographs of valuable items or by walking through your home and creating a video inventory for future reference.
6. Ensure Your Street Sign is Visible
If you've had issues with the street or address signs in your area in the past, now is the time to deal with it! Make sure they are highly readable in case the need for firefighters arises, so they and other responders can find your property as soon as possible.
7. Know the Exit Routes
Familiarize yourself with the most convenient exit routes from your home to ensure a safe escape and have at least two pre-planned paths in mind! If possible, avoid driving through wooded areas and choose routes that quickly lead you away from such areas.
Make sure that you know these routes by heart, just in case GPS access is not available during a wildfire, it's crucial to know how to navigate without electronic assistance!
8. Make Sure You're Stocked Up On Protective Face Masks!
Here's our final tip: always keep a good respirator mask around in case a wildfire breaks out. During a wildfire, the air can become filled with smoke, ash, and other harmful particles. These airborne pollutants can pose serious health risks, particularly to the respiratory system.
Wearing a mask, specifically a respirator designed to filter out fine particles, can help reduce your exposure to these hazardous substances and minimize the impact on your respiratory health, and we have just the masks for you! From N95 to KN95 masks, we have the highest quality respirators at WellBefore, sold in a range of sizes, colors, and in bulk, for all of your needs!