Hardening Your Home – Some Reminders

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile from a wildfire. Here are some things you can do to harden your home and make it more fire resistant.

NOTE: We’ve updated this post to reflect current thinking: Vent mesh should have openings no larger than 1/8-inch to prevent embers from entering.

Roof: The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Build your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal, or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.

Vents: Vents on homes create openings for flying embers. Cover all vent openings with metal mesh with openings no larger than 1/8-inch; it won’t melt and burn. Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block embers (mesh is not enough).

Eaves and Soffits: Eaves and soffits should be protected with ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials.

Windows: Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break, allowing burning embers inside the house even before the home ignites. Large windows are the most vulnerable. Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire. Consider limiting the size and number of windows that face areas of vegetation.

Walls: Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials; however, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas. Build or remodel your walls with ignition resistant building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement, wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials. Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.

Decks: Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant, non-combustible, or other approved materials. Ensure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.

Rain Gutters: Screen or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.

Patio Cover: Use the same ignition-resistant materials for patio coverings as a roof.

Chimney: Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-combustible screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.

Garage: Have fire extinguisher, shovel, rake, and bucket available for fire emergencies. Weather strip around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in. Store all combustible and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.

Fences: Consider using ignition-resistant or non-combustible fence materials to protect your home during a wildfire.

Driveways and Access Roads: Driveways should be built and maintained in to allow fire and emergency vehicles to reach your home. Consider maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side, allowing for two-way traffic. All gates should open inward and be wide enough to for emergency equipment. Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Address: Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road or street.

Water Supply: Consider having multiple garden hoses long enough to reach all of your home and other structures. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.

Don’t forget our Firesmart Workshop on May 6. We will have experts and handouts on this and other topics. More information here.