How to Protect Your Home from a Wildfire

How to Protect Your Home from a Wildfire

Durango’s Lightner Creek Canyon Fire has been unsettling to say the least to most everyone.  With almost 400 acres burned and 170 homes evacuated so far, it’s not hard to see why.  Our prayers are with those who are evacuated.  Perhaps the most concerned people are homeowners here in Southwest Colorado as we are all currently under a red flag warning.  If you want to do your best to protect your home in the event of a forest fire, follow these pointers to mitigate the risk as much as possible.

Photo credit: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Photo credit: Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Clear Debris

Firefighters recommend a defensible area of at least 30 feet stretching out from your home.  Colorado state recommends at least 75 feet.  This includes not only brush, but any sort of dead vegetation, firewood stacks, leaves, pine needles or other debris on the roof or in gutters.  Prune tree branches within your defensible space so they are 10 feet above the ground.  Trim any branches that overhang your home – especially those near chimneys.  This won’t guarantee your home’s survival 100%, but it will increase the likelihood that firefighters will stick around to fight for your home.

Consider Fire Resistant Building Materials

For those of you who haven’t built your home or those who don’t mind making changes to their existing home, this is for you!  For your roofing materials, use: asphalt shingles, clay, tile or metal roofing.  For siding, consider using stone, brick or stucco.  For your windows, try double paned glass.  In the event of flying debris, it will prevent breakage, but also radiant heat that has been known to cause home furnishings to catch fire before fire ever enters the home.  If you haven’t built your home yet, consider using less windows on the side of your home that be more easily exposed to wildfire danger.

Sprinkler Systems and Smoke Detectors

Don’t discount the fact that a fire from your home could be the start of a forest fire.  It happened here in Durango!  Being that most of our homes are in rural areas, the response time of firefighters will likely take longer.  Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors are paramount!  Make sure they are clear of dust (dust decreases detectors sensitivity to smoke), that they are tested once a week and that they are installed up high (4 to 12 inches from the ceiling).

Sprinkler systems are even better at fighting fire in the event you’re not home or the fire is spreading too fast to be put out by a portable fire extinguisher.

Home Fire Prevention Strategies

While you may think it’s elementary, creating a fire evacuation plan and practicing with your family twice a year could save lives.  Colorado state forest service suggests marking two exits out of every room (including windows) and designating an area to meet outside the home so firefighters can be notified that everyone made it out of the home.  If you catch fire, remember the classic, “Stop, drop and roll.”

Regular Maintenance

If you want to be on the safe side, do a monthly check up of your home to be sure it’s protected.  Especially after storms when debris has been freed from trees.  Get your chimney cleaned once a year and clear weeds out near the home.  If you have decks or balconies, install a weed barrier to help keep weeds out from under your home.

If you need help preparing your home and replacing it with new siding, we are here for you anytime at (970) 903-4305.  We promise to take the guesswork out of your next residential or commercial paint or siding project!