As the threat of wildfires grows, safeguarding your home from flying embers now becomes more crucial than ever. Embers, capable of traveling vast distances, have the potential to ignite fires, posing a significant risk to homes and entire communities. With this growing concern, it becomes imperative to take proactive steps to protect your home.
The increasing frequency of wildfires, exemplified by the 7,477 wildfires reported in California so far, according to CAL FIRE, underscores the urgency of wildfire preparedness. These wildfires often create flying embers, making it crucial to take proactive steps to shield your homes from the possible damage caused by these fiery particles. Here’s a detailed blog on hardening various aspects of your home to enhance its chances of survival during a wildfire.
Home Hardening System: A Proactive Approach
A home hardening system involves implementing measures to make your home more resistant to wildfires, with a specific focus on minimizing the risk posed by flying embers. Here are some key components of an effective home hardening system:
Creating Zone 0
The space within 0 to 5 feet of your house, encompassing the structure’s surfaces, is the most susceptible region. This critical area, termed “ZONE ZERO,” is ground zero for defending your home against embers. It is imperative to ensure there are absolutely no combustible materials within this zone!
Vents and Eaves
Vents on homes create openings that allow flying embers to enter. Cover all vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh to prevent ember infiltration. Install fire resistant vents and screens to prevent embers from entering your home. Mesh screens on eaves and attic vents can be helpful in blocking ember intrusion.
The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home during a wildfire. Opt for fire-resistant roofing materials such as composition, metal, clay, or tile. These materials are less likely to catch fire from ember showers, providing an additional layer of protection for your home. You can also seal any gaps between the roof decking and covering to prevent ember intrusion. Regularly remove vegetative debris from the roof to minimize fire risks.
Wildfire heat can cause windows to break, allowing embers to enter. Choose dual-pane or tempered glass windows, as they are more resistant to radiant heat and less likely to break during a wildfire. Limit the size and number of windows facing large vegetation areas and install ember-resistant screens for added protection.
Avoid wood siding, as it can easily ignite when exposed to flying embers. You can consider building or remodeling walls with fire-resistant materials such as stucco, fiber cement, brick, or fire-retardant wood. Extend these materials from the foundation to the roof for comprehensive protection.
Utilize materials that are non-combustible for decks and fences. If wood is essential, apply fire-retardant coatings to mitigate its flammability. Construct surfaces within 10-foot proximity to the building using materials that are either ignition-resistant or non-combustible. Create a fire-resistant zone around and under decks, eliminating all combustible items. If a deck extends over a slope, maintain a defensible space downslope to reduce fire spread.
Rain Gutter Maintenance
Regularly clear rain gutters or consider enclosing them to prevent the accumulation of plant debris. Enhance protection by installing corrosion-resistant metal drip edges and using noncombustible gutter covers to avoid debris buildup, reducing the risk of ignition from flying embers.
Select ignition-resistant materials when constructing patio coverings, applying the same principles used for roofing. This adds an extra layer of safety to outdoor spaces, minimizing the potential for fire hazards.
Safeguard chimneys and stovepipe outlets by covering them with non-flammable screens made of metal with appropriate openings. This measure prevents embers from escaping and igniting nearby surfaces. Additionally, remember to close the fireplace flue during fire season when it’s not in use.
Ensure your garage is well-prepared for emergencies by equipping it with a fire extinguisher and essential tools. Add a battery backup to the garage door motor and install weather stripping to prevent ember entry. Store flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources, treating garage windows and vents with the same precautions as those in the main house.
Minimize fire risk by either separating fences from the house or upgrading the last 5 feet to a non-combustible material. This helps create a buffer zone, reducing the likelihood of fire spreading from the fences to the home.
Driveways and Access Roads
Adhere to state and local codes for fire and emergency vehicle access by ensuring driveways comply with regulations. Maintain access roads with at least 10 feet of clearance on either side, trimming overhanging trees and shrubs to facilitate easy passage for emergency vehicles.
Exterior Sprinkler Systems
The purpose of an exterior sprinkler system is to reduce the risk of ignition by moistening the home and its surrounding property. These systems should effectively shield a home from three primary wildfire threats: wind-blown embers, radiant heat, and direct flame contact. Due to potential concerns related to performance, it is advised that their use be considered a supplementary measure, not a substitute for established and proven mitigation strategies.
Pro Tip: [Enhance your firefighting capabilities by having multiple garden hoses that can reach all areas of your property.]
It is essential to securely fasten the tarp covering to prevent embers from reaching the woodpile, especially during the strong winds typical of wildfires. Additionally, ensure annual inspection of the tarp’s integrity, as long-term performance when exposed to UV rays is uncertain and may differ among various products.
The implementation of a robust Home Hardening System is important to protect your home against the threat of flying embers during wildfires. This proactive approach enhances the resilience of your home by addressing vulnerabilities in key areas such as vents, roofs, windows, walls, decks, and other potential points of ignition.
As a noteworthy addition to this protective system, consider incorporating “Vulcan Vents,” renowned for providing fire resistant vents. Our vents are specifically designed to withstand the challenges posed by wildfire conditions, offering an additional layer of defense for your home. Contact Us Today!