California’s drought has had a lot of impact on life in the region, particularly in regards to fires. The Sand Fire spent most of the last week giving Santa Clarita and Los Angeles National Forest a smoky pall, and is still continuing its way through the hills. While many residents have returned to their homes, 18 houses were lost to the fire, and similar risks present themselves all along Southern California. Long Beach saw its own brush fire recently, with a fire being started in El Dorado Park when someone attempted to clear the ground for their own use.
A National Issue
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 and a hope that no incidents happen near our own homes, 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.
Prevention Is Simple
Here’s a couple of easy ways to make sure your house is prepared for fire season now and in the future:
- Keep overhanging tree branches away from the roof of the house and dead plants clear 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 risk of fires, as well as 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. According to FEMA, California is among the most likely states to experience a wildfire. While most suburban and urban neighborhoods aren’t going to experience wildfires the way that our neighbors in the Los Angeles and Cleveland Mountains will, the occasional brush fire has been known to sweep into undeveloped areas near freeways and on the fringes of cities. Making some adjustments to the exterior of the house with options like fire-proofed materials for decks, and in new construction and renovations, can make reducing fire risk much easier.
- 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’s options out there to protect your home and rest a little easy while the first of our wildfires happen for the year (and later in the autumn when the Santa Ana winds are blowing). 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.