A fire started accidentally can destroy all the things you worked so hard for. Thanks to home insurance, you will be able to replace some of them. But there are things that you cannot replace; things, which have no financial, value but mean the most to you. Here are a few strategies that you can use to fire-proof your home:
Access to your home
Make sure that your home is easily accessible to the firefighters. This is an important issue for rural people, who may not have roads which are clearly marked, or who rely on old logging roads which are too narrow or steep for heavy equipment.
Make sure that your roof is fire-resistant.
Shake roofs are most susceptible to fire while tile or metal offer the best defense.
The structure of your home
If your house is built from wood, make sure that the wood is fire-treated.
Make sure that each bedroom has two escape routes. Practice with your kids so that they know where the second escape route is and how to use it.
Should you live in a rural wooded area where forest fires are a possibility, make sure that your landscaping creates a defensible area around the house. The zone should stretch approximately 100 – 150 feet from the house outward. Plant low vegetation like grass closest to the home. Keep the grass moist and trim. Individual shrubs or trees should be at least 10 feet from the home.
In the next zone, trees should be thinned and their lower branches removed to lessen the chance of a ground fire climbing into their tops. Trees should generally be kept far enough from the home so their tops, if ignited, could not carry fire to the home.
Here is some of the fire-resistive plants should be considered when landscaping around your home: Yarrow, Rock Rose, Dwarf Coyote Bush, Morning Glory Bush, Australian Fuchsia, African Daisy, Sunrose, Honey Suckle, Green Lavender Cot, Perennial Verbena, Dwarf Periwinkle, Ivy, Aaron’s Beard, Creeping Rosemary, and Periwinkle. The trees are Carob, California Pepper, African Suman, and Brazilian Pepper.
To help the plants and trees maintain their fire resistance, they need to be watered and pruned to remove dead leaves and branches. Routine care and maintenance will provide you with an attractive defensible space against wildfire.
Inside the home
Install smoke detectors in your home. Make sure that there is one outside your bedroom. Test your smoke detectors once a month. Change your smoke detector’s battery every fall and the spring. You should have fire extinguishers everywhere: your family’s kitchen; the garage and car.
All electrical appliances and tools should have a testing agency label. If an appliance is exposed to water where it shouldn’t, service it before you use it.
Make sure that your kerosene heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Make sure that the heater has an emergency shut off that operates in case the heater is tipped over. Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal, or propane) produces deadly fumes, mostly in the form of carbon monoxide.
Only use the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Keep kerosene and other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas, outside of the house. Never fill the heater while it is hot or in operation. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Be careful with cold fuel, for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
Make sure that your stove is installed properly. It should have adequate clearance from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection. Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time. Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
The fire place
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out and unwanted materials (or people) from going in.
When there is a fire in your home
- Get out immediately. Don’t try to take your possessions: they can be replaced, you can’t.
2.Crawl under the smoke. Don’t try to run through it. You should also “stop, drop and roll” upon leaving the burning house or building if your clothes have caught on fire. Teach all these to your children too.
3. Your family should have a pre-determined place where you all know you should go if there is a fire in your home. That will make it easy to do a head-count and determine who is missing. It would be tragic if someone went back to the house to look for a person who was already outside and got stuck in the fire.
- Call the fire department. Don’t assume your neighbors did. During your call, give your physical address to the fire department as well as information about what is burning.