May 4 is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day! This national campaign encourages people to come together and take action to reduce wildfire risk.
Wildfires across the United States have cost more than 100 lives and more than $25 billion dollars in property losses in just the last two years. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to improve the wildfire safety of your home and community.
Wildfire Protection Projects
Projects that reduce wildfire risk and increase preparedness can be accomplished by a broad range of ages; and come in a variety of time commitments, with some as short as a few hours. You might be asking – what can I do in one day to be safer from wildfire? And the answer is a lot! To help get you started, we’ve developed more than two dozen project ideas for individuals, families and groups. With the youngest participants in mind, most can be accomplished without power tools or monetary costs.
- Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
- Clean pine needles from roof and gutters and pay attention to maintaining the home ignition zone.
- Get out your measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to the home. If closer than 30 feet, they need to be relocated and moved at least 30’ away from structures.
- Sweep porches and decks clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures. Make sure you dispose of debris.
- Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less.
- On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging tree branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree).
- Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.
- Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate it to a storage shed, garage, or basement. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors and should be located away from the home.
- Distribute wildfire safety information to neighbors, or staff a table at a grocery or hardware store (other high-traffic locations work too) and distribute free Firewise and emergency preparedness materials that can be ordered from the catalog or from READY.gov.
- Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash.
- Visit the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association site, and download free home inventory software. Work together as a family to videotape and take photos of your possessions – that way you’ll have the insurance documentation needed to replace belongings.
- home evacuation plan.
- Create a Family Communication Plan (available in both English and Spanish).
- Build or update a 72-hour kit.
- Contact your local Office of Emergency Management and ask if your jurisdiction requires individuals to register cell phones to receive emergency notifications on mobile devices.
- Can you see your home’s address number from the street? If not, trim overgrown vegetation covering or blocking the numbers.
- Using social media or text messaging, pick a day and send hourly Firewise and Emergency Preparedness tips to your contacts and friends.
- Help an elderly relative or neighbor enter emergency numbers and the names of close relatives into their cell phones; and in large font post their phone number and street address above their landline so it can easily be seen when providing information to an emergency dispatcher.
- As a family – locate two alternate routes out of your neighborhood (besides the one normally used); and plan and practice an evacuation drill using those secondary routes.
- Teens that babysit outside the home need to schedule a conversation with the parents of the kids they’re responsible for and learn their emergency plan and what they should do if a wildfire starts, or an evacuation issued, while in that leadership role.
- Work with neighbors to develop a phone tree that can be used to alert everyone about a fire or evacuation.
- Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire screening no larger than 1/8” mesh to help keep embers out during a fire.
- During an evacuation pets have special needs too – build an emergency kit for your animals.
- Hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to your local fire department’s wildland fire team.
Visit the National Wildfire Protection Association for more information.