Apart from COVID-19, statewide blazes in California are at the forefront of the news. Over 37 new fires were sparked in early September. And even though most of them were contained, two turned into large wildfires. One of them stemmed from a gender reveal party gone wrong, generating a fire that spread over 10,000 acres in El Dorado county. Now, certain parts of California are seeing red-tinted skies and poor air quality because of the fires.
What is worse is that the heatwave across California and its surrounding areas are causing blazes to strengthen and even spread across states on the West Coast. Even Oregon and Washington are experiencing overwhelming wildfires. Fires have destroyed more than 3,900 structures in California alone.
Here is what you need to know about wildfires and how you can protect your home from them.
What are Wildfires?
Wildfires are uncontrolled blazes that burn across forests, savannas, grasslands and other wildland vegetation. These can start because of a natural occurrence, like a lightning spark. However, some can also be man-made. A wildfire’s growth often depends on the weather, too. The recent heatwave in California only intensified the blazes across the state.
These fires can be beneficial to forest ecosystems, as some seeds need to be heated to grow. They also kill diseases and insects that damage trees. The fire can also clear out underbrushes and shrubs, allowing seeds to be exposed to more sunlight and flourish. According to the National Geographic Channel’s Encyclopedia entry on wildfires, the practice of rapidly putting out blazes caused abnormal growths of shrubs and underbrushes in forests, creating fuel for more severe blazes.
Despite their possible benefits, however, wildfires create destruction, like property damage when they reach residential and commercial areas. Some fires also worsen air quality. A wildfire can happen anywhere and at any time. It just takes the right conditions.
Protecting Your Home’s Exterior
Here is what you can do to protect and prepare your home from a possible disaster.
- Fortify Your Roof – Your roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of your home to fires. If it is made of shingle or wood, it can easily burn down and collapse; more so if it is filled with flammable materials, like pine needles and leaves. If possible, replace your roof with fire-resistant materials like tile or metal. Since it is fall season, make sure to clear your roof of leaves, too.
- Improve Your Walls – Wood is a commonly-used material for walls. However, it is a poor choice if you want to fireproof your home. Renovate your walls by replacing them with cement, fiber cement, or stucco.
- Get Stronger Windows – Single-pane windows can break down from intense heat. The opening they leave allows embers to enter your home and cause further damage. Invest in tempered glass windows or even go for double-paned ones, especially openings that face vegetation and trees.
- Take care of your landscape – Your landscape plays a significant role in how the blaze will possibly spread into your home. Fallen leaves and pine needles scattered around your patio will only lead the fire to your house.
Still More Options
Regularly clean your front and backyard. Ensure your lawn is mowed and moist as well, so the fire will not have as much fuel when it starts creeping into your property. If possible, hire an arborist to regularly trim tree branches that overarch your home, as these can easily fall onto your roof when they catch fire.
- Enhance your alarm system – A fire in your home can develop without your knowledge. This is why you should not just rely on your phone to get help from authorities. Have a fire alarm system installed, complete with smart smoke and fire sensors that inform both you and the local fire bureau about a possible fire in your house. Make sure you work with electricians to keep your wirings updated and maintained, so your alarm system stays sharp and in good condition.
- Mesh up your vents – Embers may also enter your home through vents. Minimize this possibility by installing mesh screens over them to catch embers before they do damage.
Final Thoughts on Wildfires
Although wildfires may be beneficial to forest ecosystems, intense and long-lasting ones can lead to property damage and even human injuries and casualties.
Protecting your home for a wildfire is important, especially if you live in a fire-prone area. Projects like replacing your roof and walls may require a lot of time and money, but they are worth it if it means your home becomes virtually fireproof.