As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.
Monitor conditions and follow advice of local authorities. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately and follow FEMA recommendations.
Wildfire safety tips
If you anticipate evacuation orders due to wildfire, there are several things you can do to prepare your home before you leave.
- Shut off gas supply to your home or propane tank(s). It’s standard practice by emergency response to shut off the gas supply to prevent feeding a fire. Doing so yourself reduces risks to your home or structure.
- Close all doors and windows. Closing doors and windows can prevent embers from entering the house or structure and igniting combustible materials, burning it down from the inside out.
- Turn off air conditioning. This will prevent outside smoke from entering the home and causing preventable damage.
- Leave a ladder out if you have one. Place a ladder near or against your home to allow firefighters quick access to your roof if needed.
Tips to prepare your home for a wildfire
The goal of an effective wildfire protection plan is to keep the fire from coming dangerously close to any structure on the property. Once ignited, the structure itself can become a fire source that can generate wind-driven embers that will threaten and could ignite neighboring properties.
- Choose a noncombustible material like rock or gravel mulches. Use brick or concrete walkways in areas close to the home.
- If vegetation is planted within five feet of the home, select slow growing plants such as irrigated flowers or lawn.
- Do not store firewood, lumber or other combustibles near your home or any attached deck.
- Remove shrubs underneath trees and thin trees to create about 10 feet between them.
- Remove dead vegetation and branches overhanging your home.
- Store RVs/trailers at least 30 feet from the home (if possible).
- Create a 10-foot noncombustible zone around propane tanks.
- Remove debris from home roof and gutters on a regular basis.
- Cover attic, foundation and other vents with mesh screens.
Find other ways to protect your family by making your home more resilient to wildfires by visiting the Institute for Business and Home Safety website at disastersafety.org
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Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may help you mitigate your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that you will consider which of these may help you in your efforts to protect your family and yourself.