3 Ways to Minimize the Risk of Wildfire as a Homeowner
There are also changes you can make as a homeowner to help prevent wildfires in your state. Here are a few.
Wildfires are terrifying, and nowhere has that been more demonstrated this year than in California. For much of 2020, wildfires have ravaged California's forests, destroying property and even taking lives. The California wildfires, on top of a global pandemic, have made for a pretty devastating year.
However, wildfires are not totally out of human control. Raging wildfires are a tangible effect of climate change, and one way to help prevent them is to be kinder to the environment. This can be through small changes, like cutting down on meat consumption or taking shorter showers, or through larger changes, like installing solar panels for home. There are also changes you can make as a homeowner to help prevent wildfires in your state. Here are a few.
1. Learn About Your State's Wildfire History
It's important to know your state's level of susceptibility to wildfires based on wildfire history. States like California, Texas, Colorado, and Arizona have richer wildfire histories than states like Delaware, Illinois, or Pennsylvania; you likely don't have to worry too much about wildfires if you live in one of the latter areas. Either way, knowing the wildfire history of where you live is important, as it will determine the steps you can take in preventing them.
With that said, you can't rule out the possibility of wildfires even in the least susceptible states. Long periods without rain can increase the risk of wildfire, and if you live in a heavily forested area in any state, you will also be at higher risk. Make sure you understand the wildfire risk level of your personal community, and recognize whether your community has the resources to effectively deal with the potential threat.
2. Properly Maintain Vegetation Around Your House
Vegetation is fuel for wildfire, though some plants are more flammable than others. It's important to know what is planted around your house; ornamental juniper, leyland cypress, Italian cypress, rosemary, and eucalyptus plants are all highly flammable and can be a wildfire's best group of friends if not maintained properly.
To reduce wildfire risk, you will need to identify the plants growing in your yard and take proper action. Remove the plants that are highly flammable, and thin out other vegetation as to not give a wildfire substantial fuel. It's also important to remember that the further the plants are from your home the less of a risk a wildfire poses to your personal safety, so if you live in a wildfire susceptible area, try to keep your vegetation as far away from your home as possible.
3. Enclose All Overhang Structures Underneath
Sun decks and porches are a wonderful way to spend time basking in the outdoor air with your family, and they are not worth eliminating from your home. However, they are worth enclosing underneath, as having exposed space underneath a porch or a balcony can provide a wildfire with fuel. Overhang structures can ignite easily and trap wildfires underneath, and once it's trapped the wildfire will be difficult to put out—especially when there are flammable plants or other materials underneath.
To prevent this wildfire hazard, make sure that your porch or sun room is enclosed underneath down to the ground. The best way to ensure this is to build the structure on the ground, but this isn't possible for every home. If it's not, make sure you are using non-combustible product for both the porch itself and material you will use to enclose it.
The most important thing is that you, your family, and the people around you stay safe. Therefore, it's important to take these home maintenance steps toward minimizing wildfire risk, especially if you live in a highly susceptible area. However, research shows that the most likely cause of wildfires is climate change. It's critical not to forget that global warming is playing an increasing role in environmental crisis, wildfires being one of them. Therefore, combining home maintenance steps with working toward a healthier climate will be the most effective way that you can help prevent wildfires in your community and across the country.
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