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With fires cutting through Tonto National Forest the past several weeks, it is a good reminder to Arizona residents that wildfires can strike, even in the desert. Keeping your home protected from fire is a significant concern, especially if you live on property at the edge of urban areas, which are most vulnerable to the spread of wildfires. Much like a hurricane, there isn’t a way to stop or block the onslaught of a wildfire, but there are proven strategies to make your home less vulnerable.
Check Your Roof
Wooden shingle roofs are one of the first entry points for fire when it sweeps an area. Embers that blow onto a dry wooden roof can easily ignite it in a blaze that spreads through the home. If your home is in an area vulnerable to fire, opt for fire-resistant materials like ceramic, slate or asphalt roofing. If you live with a wooden roof and you can’t easily replace it, consider treating the area with fire retardant.
Check your roof seasonally for missing shingles and roofing cracks. An unprotected spot can turn into your home’s Achilles’ heel when embers are in the air, allowing burning material to ignite below the roof’s surface protection. Making sure your roof is fireproof and sealed is your first defense against the spread of fire.
Make sure the trees, plants and shrubs on your property are well-watered and dead foliage is pruned and removed from the landscape. For desert residents, this can be one of the most important aspects of resisting wildfire. The desert’s aridity can make maintaining healthy landscaping a challenge, especially in the summertime. Install a water-efficient irrigation system for your plants and keeping them well-watered can prevent them from becoming fuel for wildfires.
When planting, don’t position oil-rich plants and trees near the structure of your home. Pine, fir, and manzanita trees all burn quickly and easily and can spread fire with shocking speed. Check local gardening organizations for lists of native plants and trees that are desert adapted and don’t encourage fire.
The 5-Foot Zone
The immediate zone around your home should be clear of things that can easily ignite. This includes gas and propane tanks, stacks of firewood, loose branches and mulch, and any dried and combustible organic substance. Nothing highly flammable should be within 5 feet of your home’s outer walls. Fuel sources like firewood and propane should be moved to at least 30 feet away from house structures.
For landscaping near the home, it is best to use gravel beds rather than mulch beds. Gravel and stone beds or container gardens can still hold the water plants need without providing the fire fuel that mulch does. Plants near the home should never be allowed to dry out and dead branches and leaves should be removed and moves away from the home.
While keeping hazards away from your home is important, the answer isn’t to clear your property of any landscaping. Well-tended, healthy plants can act as a buffer from embers and wildfire, while cleared land allows fire to easily blow through unobstructed. The answer is a healthy balance – overgrown yards or cleared lots can both cause problems.
Ember Proof Your Home
The most likely place for an ember to catch fire is on your roof, but there is also a risk of embers entering your home and igniting it from the inside. All vents for your home should be covered with screens to prevent stray embers from blowing into your home’s interior.
It is also important to consider your windows. Make sure your windows that open are fitted with screens so embers cannot blow into your living space. Using double glazed or tempered windows for your home will mean they are able to resist some extreme heat.
While we can’t put out a wildfire, CC Sunscreens does know a thing or two about resisting extreme heat. Our sunscreens are custom built to your home to block excess heat and sunlight and maintain a comfortable living temperature year-round. Installing sunscreens cuts your energy expenses by naturally balancing your home’s temperature and our durable, stylish sunscreens can be matched to any home. Ready to beat the heat this summer? CC Sunscreens is here to help – give us a call today!