How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Preparation is key to protecting your family, home and valuables. This wildfire home and property checklist will help you prepare for the possibility of a wildfire and proactively protect the things that matter most.

Know your property. Homes at the top of a slope are more vulnerable than homes on flat land, but both types of properties can be protected with the help of groundcover and trees. The area closest to the house requires the most careful protection and selection of vegetation to prevent exposure and ember combustion. Keep this area free of debris and well maintained. Moving further from the home, you can use landscaping to create a perimeter. Avoid using shorter vegetation under trees and create groupings that are well maintained. When you get 30-100 feet from the home tree and brush spacing can be used to reduce the energy and speed of a wildfire. A professional landscaper can give you an idea of what plants and trees will thrive in your region while also providing you a layer of wildfire protection.

Roof considerations. Trees that hang over your roof or within 10 feet can accumulate combustible debris. Keeping all trees trimmed and away from the roof is a smart way to protect your home. Remember that flatter roofs will accumulate more debris and frequent cleanings may be needed. If you are in an area prone to wildfires you’ll want to investigate your roof covering — a Class A fire-rated roof covering offers the best protection.

Vents. The vents in your home can be vulnerable to the entry of embers. But the good news is there are vents that resist the entry of embers or flames. Your local fire or building department will know if any of these have been approved for your area. You could also consider using a closure device, but keep in mind that this should only be used during the threat of a wildfire and removed once the threat is resolved.

Windows. Like vents, open windows can allow embers and flames into the home. While a closed window is susceptible to radiant heat and direct flames, an open window is more vulnerable.

Clean up. Fences, decks, garages and other structures can accumulate debris from trees, plants and other combustible materials. Keeping these areas clean lowers the attractiveness to fires and ups the safety factor of your home.

Have an evacuation plan. A wildfire evacuation plan can help take confusion out of the moment by giving you a prearranged set of instructions. Much like having a home fire escape plan, practicing this fire drill helps all family members stay calm and focused. Keep your family safe and protected by jumping into action and following your plan when an evacuation is called.

If you live in a region that is prone to wildfires, it’s smart to stay on top of prevention measures like these. It’s also a good idea to talk to your American Family Insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage for your home — this way you’ll have peace of mind that your home and your loved ones will be protected from the unexpected.


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