Are You Prepared for Dry Weather?
Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. Give your household the best chance of surviving a wildfire by being ready to go and evacuating early. Being ready to go also means knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped.
Keep your property lean and green to help protect your family and home.
Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surrounds it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.
What is the Home Ignition Zone?
The concept of the home ignition zone was developed by retired USDA Forest Service fire scientist Jack Cohen in the late 1990s, following some breakthrough experimental research into how homes ignite due to the effects of radiant heat. The HIZ is divided into three zones.
The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area. Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers. START WITH THE HOUSE ITSELF then move into the landscaping section of the Immediate Zone.
- Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.
- Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
- Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8 inch metal mesh screening.
- Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
- Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home. Landscaping/hardscaping- employing careful landscaping or creating breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior
- Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
- Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
- Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
- Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns. Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
- Space trees have a minimum of eighteen feet between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
- Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
- Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.
30-100 feet, out to 200 feet. Landscaping – the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.
- Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
- Remove dead plant and tree material.
- Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
- Remove vegetation adjacent to storage sheds or other outbuildings within this area.
- Trees 30 to 60 feet from the home should have at least 12 feet between canopy tops.*
- Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.*
*The distances listed for crown spacing are suggested based on NFPA 1144. However, the crown spacing needed to reduce/prevent crown fire potential could be significantly greater due to slope, the species of trees involved and other site specific conditions. Check with your local forestry professional to get advice on what is appropriate for your property.
Pine needles, leaves and other debris around your home create fuel for fires. As we move into summer, warm/dry conditions with low humidity & wind, any fire to spreads rapidly. Build on beyond 5 feet from your house. By addressing this area from 5 to 30 feet from your house you can influence and decrease fire behavior prior to it reaching your house.
Fire Resistant Plants
A fuel break that includes fire-resistant plans can help protect your home by reducing and blocking intense heat. Learn at fire-resistant plants about: https://www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_fire_resistantplants_in_nw.pdf?kukl1
Homeowners can play an important role in making key choices that help protect their homes against wildfire risks.
Wildfire embers, or fire brands, can be blown up to 2 miles away from the main wildfire, and land on vulnerable areas of your home and surrounding property. Making smart choices about landscaping, removing debris like pine needles and leaves, and establishing clearance zones can help keep your home safer from wildfire.
Science has proven that taking precautions like these can make a difference when your home is at risk from wildfire.
Learn 5 key areas around your home to inspect when assessing your property's wildfire risk.
While wildfires burn across the country, and especially in the west, they don’t have to burn everything in their path. NFPA provides action steps for residents to reduce wildfire risks, including seven tips to help keep homes from igniting in a wildfire.
Wildfire risk reduction projects are not just for your immediate home, but also apply to the outbuildings on your property. Learn what structures on your property you need to consider when preparing for wildfire.
Just as humans prepare, it’s important to have household pets and horses ready year-round for a potential wildfire evacuation. Preparing animals for an evacuation, however, requires an extra level of planning, preparedness and practice. NFPA’s TakeAction campaign provides the tips you need to start putting your pet emergency kit together now, before a wildfire threatens your area.
Make a plan to keep your pets safe if there’s a wildfire!