Last year was one of the worst and most devastating wildfire seasons in California history. About 9,000 wildfires burned more than 1.2 million acres in California in 2017, according to preliminary CalFire statistics.
Fire season is here once again, but CalFire says there are things people can do to protect themselves, as well as prepare for the worst.
"In California, wildfires aren't a question of if, but only a question of when," according to CalFire. "If you choose to live near a natural area of the state, you are at risk for wildfires and it's your responsibility to prepare yourself, your family, and your home."
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Create a defensible space zones around your home
A defensible space zone creates a buffer between your house and an approaching wildfire, either by slowing it or keeping it at bay. The zone also provides a safe space for firefighters trying to defend your home from fire.
There are two required zones of defensible space: the first zone should extend 30 feet from buildings, structures and decks, while the second should extend to 100 feet. Creating defensible spaces includes things like removing all dead vegetation from the area, along with dead or dry leaves and pine needles from from your yard, roof and rain gutters. Trees, shrubs and grasses should be trimmed/pruned and spaced properly.
Harden your home
Hardening your home means using ember-resistant building materials. CalFire says stray embers from a nearby fire can travel about a mile a way from their source and ignite weak spots on the outside of your home from. They can also smolder for days before starting a secondary fire.
Things like roofs, vents, rain gutters, windows, garages, patio covers, eaves and soffits, walls, fences and chimneys should be assessed. Access roads and driveways should also be well-maintained and addresses clearly visible from the road. Your home should have multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas around where you live and other structures on the property.
A full list of what you can do to harden your home can be found here.
Create a wildfire action plan for you and your family
Create a wildfire action plan so your family will be prepared for and know what to do when a fire is approaching.
The plan should include a family communication plan, home evacuation check list, escape routes and meeting location, along with having preplanned or packed what belongings or items that you will need to take with you in case of an evacuation. Your action plan should be practiced, discussed and updated regularly to fit the needs of your home and family.
Each person in your household should also have an emergency supply kit assembled and ready to go. An emergency supply kit check list can be found here. CalFire also says having insurance is important and provides information on its website about how to get your finances and property ready.
CalFire's website also provides helpful information on what to do if a fire does come to your area and evacuation is imminent.