Protecting Your Home Against Wild Fires

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Homeowners can help boost their homes' fire defense with some simple changes in their yard.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) says the key is removing everything that can serve as a fuel source. This helps create survivable space: a zone around the home that helps slow a fire, should one start, and potentially direct it elsewhere.

Fires will burn only if flammable things like dry landscaping, woodpiles and decks are present. To create your survivable space, IBHS says you should take the following steps within at least 30 feet of your home, 50-100 feet if you live in a heavily wooded area:
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Protect Your Home from Wildfires
• Prune trees and shrubs.
• Branches on taller trees should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground.
• Remove dead leaves and branches, especially around the roof and chimney.
• Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
• Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
• Maintain your irrigation system.
• Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from the home.
• Store flammable liquids properly.
If you're about to begin a landscaping project, you can increase your home and yard's protection by introducing more native vegetation, and spacing trees at least 10 feet apart. And if a facelift is being planned for your home's exterior, use only non-combustible materials on the roof, walls, eaves, soffits and fascia.
"Even if you believe you're safe from wildfires, it's always a good idea to sit down with your insurance agent and do a policy review, so you know exactly what would be covered if your house were to go up in flames," says Allstate Insurance Agent Tracy A. Fero. "I also recommend that you inventory everything in your house with pictures or video."
The Insurance Information Institute has information and free "Know Your Stuff" software at http://www.knowyourstuff.org/.

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