California’s drought has had a lot of impact on life in the region, particularly in regards to fires. As the days heat up, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for fire season. California is often in the news for its fire problems but is hardly the only player in the field. Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico all have their fair share of concerns about fire for similar reasons: low annual rainfall, close proximity to brush-covered hills and mountains, high temperatures, and human error. Even the normally fairly temperate states Oregon and Washington have been experiencing risks to their communities.
So what’s to be done?
While fingers are always crossed for a good rainy season, there are some practical measures that can be taken to improve your home’s readiness for nearby fires and small on-property concerns. A home well-prepared for fire prevention is going to look perfectly normal, and if anything, will look well cared for and fresh. Most methods of preventing fire are centered around decluttering and the plants around the property, a practice that is valuable for both maintaining property value and selling. For people doing home improvements, many of these methods are as easy as choosing one type of material over another during construction, or weekend landscaping projects.
Here’s a couple of easy ways to make sure your house is prepared for fire season now and in the future:
- Clear away overhanging tree branches and dead plants from the edges of the home: Overhanging branches can quickly cause flames to spread directly to your home. Resinous trees and other waxy plants can actually increase this risk due to how easy they can ignite. Consider keeping all tree branches at least five feet away from the walls of the house. Regular pruning will help reduce the risk of fires and prevent roof damage caused by the branches falling from storms and other accidents. If a tree appears to be dead or damaged near your home, consider having it removed before it becomes fuel (or is at risk of falling!).
- Don’t stack things against the exterior walls: Firewood, gardening supplies, rubbish, you name it. All of these represent potential fuel for a fire, and with close proximity to the walls of your house, they are ripe for catching a stray ember or spark. Be aware of electrical boxes and other electronics that sit outside, being mindful of what is stored around them.
- Get fire insurance and flame-retardant materials if you can: Fire Insurance is highly useful in California. While most suburban and urban neighborhoods aren’t going to experience wildfires, the occasional brush fire has been known to sweep into undeveloped areas near freeways and on the fringes of cities. Reduce your fire risk by making exterior adjustments like fire-proof materials.
- Plants can be fire-resistant too: Not all plants are created equal in their resistance to fire. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California offers a list of landscaping plants that are both fire-resistant and drought-tolerant for would-be garden projects. While the words “drought-tolerant” tend to evoke the idea of cactus and other arid plants, many of these options are vibrant and fragrant, like Western Redbud and French Lavender.
The summer is a hot one and our drought is still going, but there are options out there to protect your home. If you have questions about vendors that can help you make these improvements, our team is happy to provide options in the Long Beach community.