Fireproofing Your Home
The sad news of spreading California wildfires have turned attention toward the vital subject of fireproofing your home. Take a few moments now to familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts of prevention with our list below:
Check your smoke detectors
No doubt about it — a smoke detector can save your life. Plan to change the batteries at least twice a year (many people do this on daylight savings time, an easy way to remember to do it).
Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
Learn to use it properly — your local fire department has educational info. If a kitchen fire or stray spark presents themselves, you may be able to use the extinguisher to put the fire out right away, possibly avoiding large-scale damage and, most importantly, saving lives.
Get to know your way around fire-retardant chemicals
These are chemicals that are meant to slow ignition and prevent the spread of fires. They are created under very strict flammability regulations. Examples include organohalogen and organophosphate chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and chlorinated tris (TDCPP).
These chemicals are often used in building materials, as well as wires, electronics and cables. They’re meant to prevent us from harm caused by fires, but they are still considered a danger in other areas, such as toxicity and environmental health. Learn more here.
They look beautiful and contribute well to your curb appeal, but in case of fire, they’re easy to ignite and, if they’re close to your house, spread the flames to the house itself.
Also be sure to remove vegetation and weeds from your yard, and any stray trash anywhere on your exterior landscape. These are surely carriers of flames in the event of a fire.
Make sure your wood decks are fire resistant
It’s well understood that wood can attract and spread fire; if you have a wooden deck, make certain that it’s coated with fire-resistant material.
Protect your walls and exterior.
Make sure you ask for non-flammable material if requesting siding, and avoid untreated wood. Vinyl siding could be hazardous if it has gaps and holes beneath the material that can allow fire into the house.
Clean your gutters
We all know that leaves, vegetation and other debris can accumulate in and clog gutters. Not only can this blockage cause damage to your house and your drainage capabilities, it can easily ignite in case of fire, and carry the debris to spread more damage. This is particularly true during dry spells.
Protect your windows
Windows may protect your home from most elements, but not necessarily fire. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety ( IBHS), a window will break after one to three minutes of exposure to intense heat or flames. The California Building Code recommends that buildings constructed in wildfire-prone areas use dual-pane windows.
Builder Online recommends double-pane, insulated glass or tempered glass. According to the site, sliding doors that are tempered and insulated have been found to withstand heat longer than standard plate glass. Avoid acrylic skylights, which can quickly melt and leave a large hole in the roof. Another idea: non-flammable shutters that can be closed in case of fire.
Keep your roof simple and clean
The flatter and less complex your roof construction is, the less susceptible it may be to fire damage. Be sure to apply fire-retardant chemicals to your roof and keep it consistently cleaned of debris (all kinds of things can get blown onto your roof and become stuck there). Be sure any roof openings or cracks are securely sealed.
DIY Natural recommends considering tile or metal roofing when/if replacing a roof. Both of these are meant to resist fire. They can be expensive, but they are believed to last for many years.
Detach your garage (if possible)
Many fires can begin in the garage, especially if a vehicle is sitting inside. Garages often contain flammable materials, like paint thinners and gasoline cans. It’s best to keep your garage separate from the main house, if this is physically possible.
Fires can happen to anyone at any time, despite your best prevention efforts. However, some proactive planning and action may save your property from major/minor damage or from your home being completely destroyed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to fireproofing your home.