As seasons shift and weather patterns have changed in recent years, the predictability of wildfire season is in a state of flux. As the times considered traditionally ‘risky’ can no longer be relied upon, and the promise of wildfire season arriving early, it really pays to be prepared ahead of time. In this article, we will look at why wildfire season has come early and the ways that you can protect yourself and your property or business.
When is Wildfire Season?
While seasons, like the weather, can vary, traditionally, wildfire season runs from July to November. As the summer begins to heat up, vegetation and dry brush begin to dry out, making the ideal kindling for fires to quickly spread.
Around October or November, the amount and probability of rainfall increases. This dampens conditions making the spread of fire much more unlikely.
Why is Wildfire Season Coming Early?
It is thought that wildfire season will start early in 2021. An increase in the average temperature has only served to increase the impact of the drought-like conditions, which have persisted since 2020.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Along with high temperatures has come a distinct lack of rainfall. In the most basic terms… The conditions that normally exist in late June and early July are apparent in May.
What Causes Wildfires?
The causes of wildfires can be numerous. Some are obvious such as carelessly discarded cigarettes, deliberate arson, or careless open fires. However, there are many less obvious causes. This can include lightning strikes, sparks from motors and machinery, and even discarded glass bottles magnifying the sun’s rays.
Regardless of the cause of wildfires, the startling thing is that the conditions for wildfires are more prevalent. While we can’t control the conditions, we can attempt to mitigate the causes and protect ourselves and stay safe from wildfires when they do break out.
How to Protect Yourself from Wildfires
While prevention is infinitely better than cure, there are some steps you can take to give yourself the best possible chance of limiting the damage that wildfires can cause. Here are some great tips to stay safe:
1. Divide your Property into ‘Zones’
As fire comes closer to your home, it is obviously riskier. The concept of an ‘ignition zone’, an area where your home is most at risk of fire spread, can help to highlight problem areas. The NFPA suggests creating three zones of varying severity:
- The Immediate Zone (5 -30 feet) – Highest risk
- The Intermediate Zone (30 -60 feet) – Intermediate Risk
- The Extended Zone (60 – 100 feet) – Lowest Risk
2. Manage Vegetation
While leaves and natural features are nice, they can be surprisingly effective in allowing fire to spread when they are dry.
To protect your home against fire, the National Fire Protection Association recommends trimming all branches from trees and shrubs that overhang your home, porch, and decking. They also suggest keeping the landscape around your home in good condition and free of scrub brush, dried leaves, and grass.
3. Remove Flammable Objects
If wildfire activity is likely, you should ensure that all objects easily ignited are moved at least 30 feet away from your home. Lawn furniture, gas tanks, barbecue fuel, and oil cans should be placed in a safe and isolated location.
4. Pay Attention to Guttering and Your Roof
Dry leaves and needles from trees are the perfect tinder for a fire. They tend to accumulate on the roof and in gutters. By clearing these areas, you reduce the risk of your home becoming part of the chain in wildfire spread.
5. Consider Landscaping Materials
If the material isn’t there, it can’t be burned in a wildfire. It is recommended that in place of natural elements such as grass, trees, and shrubs, you cover the area within 5 feet of your home with a layer of stones or other non-flammable material.
6. Water and Maintain your Garden
While you can’t control the weather, you can control how much water your garden receives. By regularly watering areas around your house, you prevent the formation of dry grass and brush.
Speaking of grass. It is recommended that you regularly mow your grass to prevent it from becoming overgrown.
7. Fireproofing your Home
There are numerous means and methods to prevent fire from either entering or flourishing in your home. Installation of metal mesh screens over vents and decking can prevent embers from entering your property.
If you live in a high-risk area, you could also consider fire suppression systems or installing a fire hose cabinet to easily and readily douse any areas that look like they are about to ignite.
If you have any doubts about how fireproof your property is, it is well worth contacting a professional fire protection company and booking a consultation with an expert.
Do you know how at risk your home is? There are online tests that can allow you to perform a quick fire risk assessment.
8. Have an Escape Plan
With the best will in the world, your ‘ace card’ is the ability to remove yourself and your family from danger quickly and easily. It is worth formulating a fire escape plan for when the situation becomes unmanageable.
As we detail in our dedicated guide to an effective fire response plan. You can formulate an easy to execute plan with the following acronym: ‘RACE.”
R: Remove yourself and others from the area that presents the biggest danger.
A: Alarm. Alert others nearby to your situation and contact the fire department.
C: Contain. If safe to do so, try and limit the spread of the fire.
E: Evacuate the area. Suppose the situation becomes unmanageable at any time. In that case, it is time to leave and get as far away from fire as you possibly can.
In planning your evacuation, you must establish two key pieces of information that must be shared:
- A rendezvous point
- A route to safety
With the increased threat of wildfires, it really does pay to be prepared. Planning can negate the risks; it can also help you get to safety quickly. If you are unsure about your level of risk, or steps you need to take, Fraker Fire can offer guidance and advice on fire protection equipment to ensure the greatest chance of success.