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PREVENTATIVE PLANNING CAN HELP YOU SURVIVE A WILDFIRE

Quickly becoming known as one of the worst in Texas history, current drought conditions have brought about numerous side effects of the lack of rain. The most important and dangerous is the potential for wildfires.

Wildfires can occur anywhere. From empty fields to local neighborhoods, wildfires can quickly destroy homes and businesses within their paths.

How can you protect your home and family?

Protection starts outside of your home. With the proper landscaping planning, you can greatly reduce the chance of a wildfire reaching your house.

First, establish safety zones around the house – a 30-foot zone and a 100-foot zone. Clear away any fallen, dried, or dead brush, leaves and plants from each of these zones.

Since vegetation is a fuel for fire, the amount in the first zone should be kept to a minimum, especially if you live on a hill, as fire spreads quickly uphill.

When planning this zone, keep in mind:

  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Cut back branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Keep tree limbs at least 15 feet above the grounds.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the house.

The second safety zone should begin at the end of zone one and extend an additional 100 feet out. Like the first, this second zone should have as few flammable forms of vegetation as possible.

If you have a porch or deck with space underneath, be sure to keep the exposed space clear of debris and storage.

Though burn bans may be in place in your county, be aware that anything from throwing a cigarette from your car window to cooking dinner on the outside grill can be the cause of an uncontrolled fire.

Be aware of your actions. If you smoke, use proper receptacles. If you choose to cook outdoors, always keep water buckets or hoses handy in case of an accident. Never leave a cooking fire unattended.

Clean away dead leaves, brush, or vegetation within a 30-foot parameter from around your home. Limiting potential fuel can help keep flames away from your home.

Organize a family evacuation plan. Just as planning for a fire inside your house will help save lives, plan an evacuation plan from your home and neighborhood in the event a wildfire is threatening your area. Have alternate plans in case the fire obstructs your exit.

Be sure your house number and street signs are in clear view; especially if your home is set back from the road.

If you sight a wildfire, call 911 immediately. Be prepared to give the location or nearest crossroads to the responders.

If the fire is near your home, initiate your family and pet evacuation plan immediately.

Staying behind to water down grass or wet down roofs will put you in danger of being trapped.

With simple preventative planning you can keep your family and home safe through wildfire season.

For a checklist on things you can do to prepare your home for wildfire prevention, please click here.