The recent fires in California devastated 38,000 acres and destroyed 63 structures, many of them homes. Although some fires can’t be stopped, there are things you can do to help mitigate the risk in your own home. Check out these guides, tools, and tips designed to help you fight fire at home.
These resources will take you step by step through things you can do to protect your home and other property.
- How to Make Fireproof Paper: Protect your important documents from fire by creating the mixture described in this guide.
- How to Fireproof Your Barn: This guide is geared toward horse barns, but the advice is applicable for nearly any structure.
- How to Prevent Kitchen Fires: Follow these tips to help reduce your risk of a fire in the kitchen.
- Firewise Landscaping and Construction Checklist: Check out these guides from Firewise to make sure your landscape and construction isn’t setting you up for a fire hazard.
- Interactive Fireproof Guide: This interactive map from CBS offers tips for fireproofing many areas of your home.
- How to Fireproof a Christmas Tree: Learn about two different ways to fireproof a Christmas tree in this resource.
- How to Minimize Fire Hazards Caused By Smoking: Follow tips like avoiding smoking inside, or even in bed to help prevent a fire in your home.
- Upgrading a Dryer Vent: The vent ducting that comes with most dryers isn’t always perfectly safe. Upgrade with a better, safer solution to prevent fires.
- How to Fireproof Data: This amateur photographer fireproofs his photo data using a safe and backups.
- How to Fireproof Your Home the Easy Way: This guide offers tips for smoke detectors, electricity, heating, and more.
- FireSmart: Protecting Your Community From Wildfire: This free guide from Partners in Protection outlines a number of things you can do to stay fire safe.
- How to Check for Electrical Fire Hazards: Make sure your electricity is up to snuff with this guide.
- Fire Proof Paints: If you’re painting your home, consider using one of these types of flame resistant paints.
- Fireproof Your Landscape: Did you know that some trees and plants are less flammable than others? Check out this guide to find out what you can use in your landscaping to help cut down on fire risk.
- Winter Survival Guide: Fireproof Your Home: Stay safe in the wintertime by using the tips in this guide.
Actions You Can Take
Follow these tips for little things you can do to help keep fire at bay.
- Remove debris: Whether it’s on your deck, porch, or overhang, debris in exposed space can be ignited easily. Make sure you’re clear of leaves, combustible materials, and storage to protect yourself. Additionally, you should wrap these areas with a mesh screen or enclose them with non-combustible materials like brick or metal. For porches, you should use non-combustible furniture and materials.
- Use safety glass: For windows and sliding glass doors, you should use safety glass that doesn’t allow radiated heat to pass through. Additionally, consider fire resistant shutters, drapes, and awnings.
- Install spark arrestors: Your chimney can let embers escape through the top, igniting your roof. By installing a spark arrestor, you’ll keep embers down with the fire. Make sure to follow specifications from your local fire department.
- Cover house vents: Exposed vents and other openings leave your home open to embers. If you cover them with 1/4 inch or smaller corrosion-resistant wire mesh, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of fire happening this way.
- Use a detached garage or park outside: Many house fires start as vehicle fires, and garages are often full of flammable materials like propane and gasoline. Keep your house separate from your garage, or if you currently have an attached garage, consider parking outside and moving flammable materials to a detached shed.
- Use electricity wisely: Minimize your use of extension cords and power bars, and always make sure your outlets aren’t overloaded. You should also be sure to replace fuses properly.
- Fireproof your fence: Build your fence on noncombustible materials like metal or masonry to avoid fire. Or, you can create a firestop between the house and the fence of the same material.
- Move propane tanks: One way to reduce fire risk is to keep fuel sources away from your home. This means moving combustibles like propane tanks 10-30 feet away from your home.
- Use fire-resistant siding: When building or remodeling your home, use fire resistant siding to lessen your fire risk. Materials include stucco, brick, cement shingles, rock, and more. You can also temporarily treat wood with fire-retardant chemicals.
- Check heating appliances: Make sure heating appliances like your furnace, dryer, stove, and grill are all up to safety standards.
- Keep firestarters away from kids: You’ve certainly heard this one before, but it’s important. Don’t let kids play with matches, lighters and other fire starters.
- Rethink wood decks: Replace wood decks with noncombustible materials like stone or concrete.
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed: Closed doors block out heat, smoke, and fire gasses, offering you extra time to escape.
- Use fire-resistant roofing materials: Flammable roofing materials include wood, shingle, and shake. Instead, use fiberglass shingles, metal, clay, concrete, and other fire-resistant roofing materials.
- Use a protective fire screen on your fireplace: Keep embers from escaping from your fireplace by installing a protective screen that keeps them in.
Tools You Can Use
These items are useful tools for fire safety and prevention.
- Fire extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher available on every floor of your house, and be sure to let everyone know where they are. Check it for leaks on a monthly basis.
- Get a fire escape ladder: Again, this one’s a lifesaver. Buy a ladder to store under your bed or in a closet upstairs so that you can escape from whatever floor you’re on.
- Install a smoke alarm: Although this device won’t keep your house from catching fire, it just might save your life. AskMen reports that only 20% of deaths by fire happened in homes with smoke alarms. You should install at least one smoke detector per floor, preferably near your bedroom.
- Use a fireproof safe: With a fireproof safe, you can protect your valuables as well as important documents from burning.