If you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires, like Los Angeles County, it’s important to be prepared for a sudden emergency situation. Wildfires can become dangerous quickly, leading to evacuations for fires on your property or home.
Find out how you can minimize your risk during wildfires and how to prepare.
Prepare the Outside of Your Home
Move Flammables 30+ Feet Away from the Home
Anything flammable outside your home can increase the risk of an ember catching your house on fire. Make sure you keep all flammable objects at least 30 feet away from your house, including your lawnmower or other power equipment, propane tanks, oil and gas cans, and containers with flammable materials. If there’s an immediate risk of a wildfire, move your furniture and other items away from your home as well.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Debris like dead leaves and pine needles in your gutter, roof, or patio can catch fire and create a risk for your home. Always keep these areas clean and clear of debris, so you’re prepared if a fire breaks out.
Move Flammable Plants 5+ Feet Away from the Home
Flammable plants like cypress, rosemary, and eucalyptus are flammable and should be planted or potted at least 5 feet from your home. If necessary, move these plants and replace them with fire-resistant plants that reduce your fire risk and give you a privacy screen.
Trim Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs that overhang near your home are a risk for a fire or other damage. Trim any large trees or shrubs that have branches that overhang within 10 feet of your home and keep them maintained throughout the year.
Regularly Mow the Grass
Always mow your lawn short and water it well to prevent a fire risk. If you’re conserving water, make sure you don’t have flammable debris or plants within 30 feet of your home.
Prepare the Inside of Your Home
Close the Fireplace Flue
Your fireplace flue is typically opened to let smoke and other pollutants outside. During a wildfire, don’t use your fireplace and make sure the fireplace flue is closed. This will prevent smoke particles and embers from entering your home through your chimney.
Mind Your Indoor Air Quality
Don’t burn anything that can pollute your home during a wildfire, including cigarettes, incense, candles, or your stove.
Weatherstrip the Windows
If your windows aren’t in good condition, they can allow pollutants to enter your home during a wildfire. Maintain and weatherstrip your windows to keep polluted air out and clean air inside during a wildfire.
Regularly Check and Change Your Air Filter
Make sure your air filter is inspected and replaced regularly to keep it functioning optimally. You should also invest in HVAC maintenance to ensure your system can operate as it should when your indoor air quality is of utmost importance.
Think About an Air Filter with a High MERV Rating
A MERV 13 or higher air filter is a great investment for your home in a wildfire area. This filter is more effective at keeping out smoke particles than a MERV 8, but you have to be sure that it’s the right filter for your current system.
Make Sure Your HVAC System Is Set to “Recirculate” or Close the Fresh Air Intake
Check if your HVAC system has a fresh air intake and close it if there’s wildfire activity. You can put it in recirculate mode to maintain your air quality and ventilation without risking outdoor pollution.
Stock Up on N95 Masks
N95 respirator masks are easy to find and a handy option during wildfires if the air gets really smoke filled. Stock up on N95 masks for your whole family, as well as some spares, to prepare for an emergency.
Make a Family Plan
Sign Up for Local Emergency Alerts
Local authorities will send alerts in the event of a wildfire or another emergency. Make sure you’re signed up for alerts and you know where to check for air quality reports, health warnings, and evacuation warnings.
Establish a “Safe Place”
Establish a clean room or safe place in your home that has few windows and no fireplace. Install an air cleaner in the room and keep some provisions inside for if you need to retreat to this space during a wildfire.
Make a “Go Bag”
A “go bag” is a bag filled with necessities, such as extra clothing, medication, and personal documents. This is designed to grab quickly in an evacuation scenario, so keep it stocked with what you may need if you have to leave in a hurry.
Don’t Forget Any Pets
In an emergency, many people leave pets behind. Include your pets in your evacuation plan and consider what you may need, such as vaccination records, medications, and food.
How Long Does Fire Season Last?
Wildfire season in California is getting longer every year. Now, most authorities consider fire season year round, which is why all Californians need to be prepared for sudden wildfires.
Contact JW Plumbing to prepare your HVAC system and your home for a wildfire!