This year is already expected to be hotter and drier than last year, which reminds us that wildfire season is right around the corner. It would be simple to attach blame to one or maybe even two root causes but, the fact of the matter is that many factors are at play (learn more by reading our post on fire statistics). That is why we recently have experienced elevated wildfire frequency in a wider range of locations, larger and much more destructive than at any other time in history.

While the direct and indirect costs of damage that wildfires cause are difficult to quantify, Accuweather has estimated that the 2020 wildfire season totaled between $130 and $150 billion in damages. That figure, however, can’t include what the long-term health costs related to the US’s wildfire exposure will be.

Regardless of why the wildfire season is that way and what that means for 2021, preparation is key. Homes that survive a wildfire almost always have one thing in common. The property owner took the proper steps to prepare their family, home and property for the unpredictable event of a wildfire. 

Wildfire prep 2021

Make a Kit

Everyone across the country should include wildfire preparedness in their emergency plans, and the first step is assembling a Wildfire Readiness Kit. To get a downloadable template, click HERE.   

Rehearsing Ahead of Time

Practice not only helps people understand the plan, but it will also allow you to troubleshoot unanticipated issues in a safe environment. 

Once you have decided on a plan, do a dry run and adjust your strategy based on what you’ve learned. Readjust your plan to fit everyone's needs and scenarios until everyone in the home feels confident in the plan. 

Tick the boxes

One crucial way to help prevent wildfire damage to your home and its surrounding area is to make sure it is well-maintained with clear defensible space. 

  1. Review home insurance policy. Speak to an insurance professional to ensure the entirety of your property is protected from wildfire damage.
  2. Make sure you can receive emergency alerts in a few different ways. Download the FEMA app, figure out all of the different ways the EAS (Emergency Alert System) and WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) systems provide notification in your area.
  3. Install smoke and CO detectors outside each bedroom and on each level of your home. This includes attics, basements and garages. Test these once a month and change batteries once a year.
  4. Create defensible space. This means clearing 100 feet around every structure on your property, with the closest 30 ft directly off the home being the most frequently maintained. Your local fire department can always guide you with best practices more catered to your area.
  5. Landscape your home and entire property with wildfire prevention and safety in mind. This includes selecting trees, shrubs and building materials that are fire retardant. 
  6. Clean the roofs and all the gutters of your home and outbuildings on the property.
  7. Have a garden hose long enough to reach anywhere around your home and any other structure on your property.
  8. Inspect fireplaces and chimneys twice a year. Ensure structures are clean and that dampers and the flu is working correctly.
  9. Move or store all patio/outdoor furniture, trampolines, woodpiles, barbecue grills, etc., outside the defensible space.
  10. Keep a few fire extinguishers in the home and garage. Make sure every member of the family knows where they can be found and how to use them.

HOA can help

It's important to note that if you are part of an HOA, check in with them. They are a great resource as they should have a preparedness plan and are experts in the property and surrounding neighborhoods.

Failure to plan is a plan to fail

Wildfires occur with little warning and are often unnoticed until it is too late. They can spread quickly, so being hyper-vigilant to fire prevention and preparation, especially during the warmer months, reduces the risk of damage to your home and property. Take the time to prepare yourself proactively for these catastrophic events, and the better off you'll be if a wildfire happens in your area. 

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