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The winds are swirling and conditions throughout Los Angeles, Southwest Riverside, and San Diego counties continue to suffer from record droughts.
Before a possible wildfire threatens your home or property, consider the following safety recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home:
• Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.
• Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.
• Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
• Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
• Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
• Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
• Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
• Remove vines from the walls of the home.
• Mow grass regularly.
• Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill – use nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
• Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.
• Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for 2 days; then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
• Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
• Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home’s contents.
Protect your home
• Regularly clean roof and gutters.
• Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
• Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
• Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
• Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it’s kept.
• Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
• Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
• Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
Plan your water needs
• Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
• Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
• Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
• Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.
*Excerpted from FEMA.gov.
Finally, ensure you are registered for Reverse 9-1-1 services — this will ensure you receive reverse 9-1-1 calls for evacuations, or sheltering in place information.
For more tips and emergency resource information, visit fema.gov.
Kerri Mabee contributed to this report.