Given the right conditions, wildfires can occur anywhere. Ensuring your home and property are prepared for fire can prevent injury and death to people and animals, plus it can limit the amount of damage and destruction a fire can cause to your property and that of your neighbours and community.
Fire weather refers to weather conditions that are conducive to fire, and these conditions determine the fire season during which fires are most likely to start, spread and cause extensive damage. In Canada, fire seasons vary from month to month and from region to region.
Recent statistics show that fire season has become longer in some regions of Canada and shorter in others, but overall future projections suggest that fire seasons will eventually lengthen in almost all areas. By the year 2100, for example, fire season in certain forest regions may lengthen by more than a month. This is why the push toward wildfire safety is more critical than ever. Use these safety tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to help protect your home, your family, and your community from wildfires.
KNOW THE RISK IN YOUR AREA
Wildfire preparedness starts with understanding your community's specific risks and the times of year that fires are most likely to ignite. This Government of Canada link shows a daily updated map of fire weather areas across Canada: https://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/maps/fw?type=fwi
There are three things you must consider when protecting your home from the risk of wildfires:
- The fire resistance of your home. Look at the construction of your home and identify areas of vulnerability. Flammable roofing materials, decking materials, and single-pane windows all present fire risks.
- The topography of your property. While a professional inspection is the best way to determine how the topography of your property will affect fire risk, there is one risk you can determine on your own: If your home is at the top of a hill—fire spreads more quickly uphill, so you will need to clear a larger space of vegetation to reduce your risk of destruction.
- The nature of the vegetation close to your home and property. Some vegetation burns more easily than others. Keep more flammable vegetation, such as grass, further from the home. Fire resistant plants include those with moist, supple leaves, a low amount of sap or resin, and those that do not shed excess vegetation. Plants to avoid, to make your property more fire-safe include: tall grasses, cedar, juniper, pine and spruce.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR WILDFIRE SEASON
Whether you are doing regular yard maintenance or making large scale changes during renovations or landscaping, you can make choices that will help protect your home and family from wildfires. While each home requires an individual protection plan, there are some common tasks that every homeowner should complete for fire protection.
1. MAKE SURE YOUR ROOFING MATERIAL IS FIRE-RESISTANT.
The roof is often the most vulnerable to fire. If you have a cedar shake roof, you should prioritize its replacement with a more fire-resistant material as soon as possible. Metal and tile are the most fire-resistant options, but any Class A roof will be sufficient.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR DECK IS FIRE-RESISTANT.
Decks should be constructed with boards at least two inches thick or using materials that are fire-resistant. The less space you have between the deck and the ground, the better. Enclose any openings under the deck so embers cannot drift underneath.
3. CLEAR A SAFETY ZONE AROUND YOUR HOME.
Selecting fire resistant plants shrubs, grass and mulch can increase the likelihood of your home surviving a wildfire. Ensure there is a 1.5 metre horizontal non-combustible surface perimeter along the outer walls of your house.
For landscaping within 10 metres of your home, avoid woody debris, including mulch, and plant a low density of fire-resistant plants and shrubs. Keep your grass mowed—grass shorter than 10 centimetres in height is less likely to burn.
4. REPLACE SINGLE-PANE WINDOWS.
Fire can heat up windows and ignite drapes and other materials inside. To help prevent this, you should replace single-pane windows with dual-pane or even triple-pane windows. Adding fire-resistant shutters can also help keep your interior protected.
5. CREATE A WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS PLAN.
Make a family emergency plan that walks every family member through what they need to do if a wildfire gets close to your home. This plan should include possible escape routes, meeting points, and an emergency preparedness kit with all the essentials you'll need if you must evacuate. Practice your plan until everyone feels comfortable with what they should do if a wildfire is imminent.
While properly preparing your home and property can reduce risk of destruction and damage caused by wildfires, it's also crucial that you have proper insurance against wildfire damage included in your policy.
In the unfortunate event that you do experience damage caused by wildfires, call on ServiceMaster Restore. Our fire damage restoration services can help you through the crisis to resolution in the shortest amount of time possible. With our expert knowledge, innovative technologies, and comprehensive clean-up procedures, we can get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.