Fire Safety in the Woods

Most of us know the do’s and don’t’s of general fire safety, but if you own a home in the woods, or you are planning to build in the future, there are some things you need to know and precautions to take against fires and fire damage.  The good news is most don’t cost anything but a little time and effort.

We have highlighted 25 of the top things you should do and check for around your home.  Now that the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are falling, take time to make sure your house is “firewise” and you and your family are protected.

  • Clean your roof and gutters of leaves and pine needles (best done in the fall and spring).
  • Clear the view of your house number so it can be easily seen from the street. Make sure numbers are at least 4″ tall and install them not only on your house but at the entrance of the driveway onto the street.
  • Put a hose (at least 100′ long) on a rack and attach it to an outside faucet.
  • Trim all tree branches that overhang your house.
  • Trim all tree branches from within 20′ of chimneys.
  • Move firewood pile out of your home’s defensible space.
  • Remove trees along the driveway to make it 12″ wide.
  • Prune branches that overhang the driveway to provide 14′ overhead clearance.
  • Maintain a green lawn for 30′ around your home.
  • Clear deadwood and dense flammable vegetation from your home’s defensible space.  Thin and prune trees.
  • Consider replacing conifer shrubs from your home’s defensible space especially if your  home is in a high risk area.
  • Get involved with your community’s wildfire protection plans and disaster mitigation plans.
  • Check your fire extinguishers.  Are they still charged?  Does everyone living in your home know where they are and how to use them?
  • Install fire extinguishers in both the kitchen and the garage.
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy for adequate coverage.
  • If you have burn barrel that you use for burning trash, obey local ordinances.
  • Compost leaves in the fall, instead of burning them.
  • If you do burn brush piles or grass, clear a 25′ barrier and get a burning permit.
  • Have a shovel on hand and hook up the garden hose before you start the fire.
  • Never burn if the smoke and flames are blowing towards your home or your neighbor’s home.
  • Install metal screens on all attic, foundation, and other openings on your home to prevent accumulation of leaves and needles.
  • Install a metal shield between your home and an attached wood fence.
  • Tin and prune conifer trees for 30′ to 100′ around your home.
  • Install a spark arrestor or heavy wire screen with an opening less than 1/2″ on wood burning fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Make sure driveway gates are at least 10′ wide to accommodate fire trucks.  If gate is locked, use a key box approved by your local fire department or use a chain loop with a lock that can be cut in an emergency.

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