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Tips to ensure safety before a wildfire threatens


Flames from a wildfire burning in the Fallbrook area are pictured from southbound Interstate 15 just south of Highway 76 in northern San Diego County, May 14, 2014. Photo/Belinda Callin

Flames from a wildfire burning in the Fallbrook area are pictured from southbound Interstate 15 just south of Highway 76 in northern San Diego County, May 14, 2014. Photo/Belinda Callin

The winds are swirling and conditions throughout Los Angeles, Southwest Riverside, and San Diego counties continue to suffer from record droughts.

READ: Ready, Set, Go campaign with CalFire, and the U.S. Forest Service, reminds that just one spark is all it takes for disaster in Southern California Fire Season

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.

READ: State of the City – When disaster strikes Emergency Preparedness in Temecula includes citizens helping themselves 

For more tips and emergency resource information, visit fema.gov.

Kerri Mabee contributed to this report.


About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

One comment on “Tips to ensure safety before a wildfire threatens

  1. Ed Rather
    May 14, 2014

    Excellent information and very up to date!


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