Friday, April 8, 2011

Colorado's On Fire...and it's only April!

For most people, a wildfire is something that happens “over there.” But every single state in the country has experienced at least one devastating wildfire.  And states like Colorado can experience many.

Wildfires can happen at any time!  A spark from a campfire, a lit cigarette thrown from a moving vehicle, a lightning bolt. Once started, wildfires can travel up to 15mph and burn for days...even weeks. If you live in the country or a heavily wooded area, your home may be especially susceptible. By taking safety precautions, you can help your home survive a wildfire.

Wildfires follow a path that’s affected by three things: weather (especially wind), terrain and fuel. Since there is little you can do to influence the weather and the terrain, your best bet is to reduce the amount of fuel that helps a wildfire spread to your property.

Create a Safety Perimeter
·    Remove all dry grass, brush and dead leaves. Homes should have a minimum safety  zone of 100 feet to be best protected.
·    Eliminate plants growing against exterior walls; especially ivy and vines. Trim tree branches to at least 10 feet of your home
·    Store firewood 30-100 feet from your house. Keep combustible materials at least 10 feet away.
·    Thin out tree clusters to create a 15-foot gap between tree crowns if they’re inside your safety perimeter.
·    Remove any old debris surrounding your home.

Landscape a Fire-Resistant Yard
·    Create fire breaks on the ground with stone or gravel walkways
·    Consider replacing vegetation in your safety perimeter with fire-resistive plants, i.e. hardwood trees like maples are less flammable than pine trees.
·    Keep your lawn mowed and properly watered.
·    Remove tree limbs within 10 feet of the ground to eliminate ladder fuels (vegetation that allows fires to climb into the trees).
·    Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs frequently.

Protecting Your Home
·    Replace your roof with Class A fire-resistant-rated materials. Keep roof and gutters clean of any flammable vegetation such as leaves and pine needles.
·    Cover vents, soffits, chimney tops and any openings under porches with ½-inch or smaller mesh screens.
·    Make sure all windows are made of tempered glass.
·    Protect the sides of your home with fire-resistant materials such as brick, concrete, rock or stucco.

Preparing For a Wildfire
·    Review or take a home inventory.  If your home is caught in a fire, this will make EVERY difference when filing your insurance claim.
·    Create a family escape plan and a designated meeting place away from your home.
·    Know at least two evacuation routes from your neighborhood.
·    Teach your family how to use a fire extinguisher and show them where it’s kept.

When a Wildfire Threatens
·    Move any flammable furniture away from patios or balconies to inside your home.
·    Shut off pilot lights and gas at the meter.
·    Close all windows and doors. Remove any lightweight curtains from windows. Move furniture away from windows.
·    Open your fireplace damper. Close your fireplace screen.
·    Connect garden hoses to outside taps. Consider watering your roof and yard.

Prepare Your Car
·    Back car into garage or park it in an open space facing your escape route.
·    Roll up all windows and close all doors.
·    Pack your car with emergency supplies and valuable documents.
·    If parked in garage, close garage door. Disconnect your automatic garage opener so you can open your door in case of a power failure.

Evacuating Your Home
·    Wear gloves, rubber-soled shoes, a handkerchief to protect your face and cotton/woolen clothes that cover your skin.
·    Call a friend or relative and tell them where you’re going.
·    Lock your house.
·    Choose an evacuation route that takes you away from the approaching wildfire.
·    Listen to the radio for reports.

After A Wildfire
·    Return home only after authorities say it is safe to do so.
·    Take pictures of the damage.
·    Call your insurance provider.
 For more information visit:          

National Fire Protections Association

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