Spring has arrived in Denver, which means it’s wildfire season.
Although the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies received above-average precipitation this winter, according to CBS News Denver, that doesn’t mean the fire season will be any less severe. All it takes for an inferno is high temperatures, low humidity, wind and a spark according to the Denver Post. You can’t always prevent wildfires from happening, but there are steps you can take to protect your property if you’re living in fire-prone areas like the canyons around Boulder or the hills above Colorado Springs. Here are several tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that may help protect your home.
Fire-proof the exterior. When buying a home in an area prone to fires, make sure the roof and exterior are made of fire-resistant or noncombustible materials. If they aren’t, you can treat them with fire-retardant chemicals approved by a nationally recognized lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Clear away debris. Always keep the roof and gutters clean, to help prevent leaves and other debris from catching fire.
Keep chimneys clean. Make sure your chimney is professionally cleaned at least once a year, inspected twice a year and that the dampers work. Also, equip your chimney with a spark arrester.
Create barriers. Add 1/8-inch wire-mesh screening beneath porches, decks, floors and the home itself. Also, use the wire-mesh screening around vent openings, especially those leading to the attic and on the roof. According to the National Fire Protection Association, this helps to prevent embers from entering your home.
Plant the right trees. Hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen or fir trees, FEMA says, so you may want to consider planting those around your property.
Don’t feed the fire. When landscaping, use materials that can help control rather than fuel flames. For example, choose low-growing plants rather than ones with falling leaves, and instead of planting grass, landscape with rocks and gravel. according to firewise.org. Also, keep combustible items, such as lawn furniture and barbecue grills, a safe distance of at least 5 feet from your home, firewise says.
Protect the inside. Add protective shutters or heavy, fire-resistant drapes inside the home.
Have the right equipment. Keep firefighting tools handy in case you don’t have time to evacuate before a fire starts. These include a rake, a saw, a bucket, a shovel and a ladder that can reach your roof.
Prepare your family. Make sure your kids know where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. Have a water source outside the home, whether it’s a small pond or swimming pool. Also, make sure your hose is long enough to reach the water source.
Have a ready-to-go kit. When the police tell you to evacuate, make sure you can get out fast. Any delay may put your life in danger, as well as the lives of firefighters trying to defend your property. FEMA suggests that your kit include water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and several other items.
Don’t forget financial protection. To help make sure your home is protected in case of a wildfire, talk to your homeowners insurance agent for information about your coverage options. You may also qualify for Colorado income tax credits for the cost of protecting your home—such as building a defensive perimeter—if you live in a designated fire zone.
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