Many of us witnessed the news of the wildfires that spread across Northern California earlier in 2017. At least 8,400 structures, a large number of those being homes and the surrounding property, were completely destroyed by the fires, which resulted in the displacement of about 100,000 people and the unfortunate death of 42.
Whether you live in a part of the country where wildfires are prevalent, like Northern California, or somewhere that has never had one, understanding how you can help protect your land from these devastating fires is important.
One of the main things you must take into account when determining your land’s ability to withstand a wildfire is to understand what your woods are made up of. Do you have a larger number of small trees that form a what they call a ladder from the ground up to the canopy of the larger trees? If so, these small trees can act as ladders and when they catch fire, the fire will climb to the top of the larger trees. Thus, taking a small fire and turning it into an out of control wildfire on your land.
Overly dense forests with a lot of small trees that have fallen over, along with dead trees scattered about, are also something to watch out for when thinking about how to protect your land from wildfires.
First, you will need to go into the forest and help thin these dead trees from your land. You should also consider removing natural fuels, like getting rid of trees and shrubs that are in close proximity to your home, in order to create a barrier between your home and the woodline. This will also help further protect your land from the fire by helping it not have any fuel to jump from place to place.
In similar fashion, consider creating fire breaks around your property. These are areas with super low amounts of vegetation, which will help slow the spread of a wildfire should one happen. Make sure the breaks are at least 10 feet wide and have no abrupt changes in direction. The last thing is to check for any overhanging brush in the break, so that the fire can’t jump from one side of it to the next.
A big way to help prevent your land and home from being destroyed by a wildfire is to know exactly what type of materials make up your home. According to Certain Teed, one of the largest construction manufacturers in North America, “This includes your home’s roof, one of the most flammable parts, as well as siding and other structures.”
We also asked Certain Teed for three tips you can use to take measures to prepare your home’s roof in light of a wildfire:
When it comes to insurance, it’s a must-have for your land and home if you are in an area that has wildfires. Be sure that the insurance company covers your roof though, since not all do. According to Certain Teed, “Many homeowners in Western states where wildfires are particularly prevalent use wood-shake roofing for its appearance, but it’s highly vulnerable to fire, mold and warping. Big-name insurance companies like State Farm refuse to cover roofs in insurance plans in these regions, and some are even requiring homeowners to physically replace their roof before their home can be eligible for a policy because of the liability.”
Your best bet on protecting your land property from a wildfire is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Lisa Lindsay, executive director of Private Risk Management Association (PRMA), spoke with us about these proactive measures. PRMA is a trade association that represents and consists of insurers; some of which may deploy certified professional wildfire fighters to help protect land in these scenarios.
Lisa also told us that they may help “protect the [land] by removing combustible materials from around the home, setting up a perimeter sprinkler system, [and] spraying the home or surrounding property with a fire-preventing, heat-absorbing fire-blocking gel.” They will even go as far as providing the customer updates, often times with photos, on the condition of their land and any actions they may have taken to protect their property.
The result? A protected plot of land from a terrifying wildfire. According to Lisa, “This also means they have helped protect customers precious photographs, family heirlooms, travel mementos and other cherished possessions,” from their homes on that land.
Bottom line — wildfires can be scary, but if you know you are in an area that is susceptible to them, you can properly prepare your land property to help protect it against the damage that could happen.