With a red alert in effect for much of the Bay Area as high temperatures and strong winds increase fire danger, officials are reminding residents that fire prevention is manageable and it is doable.
These tips provided by the Contra Costa Fire Protection District can help anyone, whether or not they are living near a fire danger zone, keep their home safe during fire season.
1. Create a defensible space Your "defensible space" is from your home to a minimum of 30 feet around the house. It is the level area around your home. If you decide to put plants in this zone, they should be well-watered and cleared of any dead material. Trees should be pruned away from your house, including away from the chimney. Things like wood decks and fences, should be removed. The first goal in creating a defensible space is to selectively thin plants, then prune them to reduce any fuel for possible fire. Sometimes wildland plants and even landscaping can be better than patchy or widely spread individual plants. The more continuous and dense the vegetation, the greater the wildfire threat.
2. Reduce your fuel zone Your fuel zone is anywhere from 30 feet to 100 feet from your back and front doors. In this zone, you should selectively thin and prune plants to preserve the natural appearance of the area while still reducing the amount of burnable vegetation. No removal of existing plant root system should occur to prevent future erosion. All debris and trimmings should be removed from the area or converted to mulch and evenly spread out. No sprinklers should be used in this area to reduce plant growth.
3. Pick plants that are "fire smart" Landscaping with wildfire in mind -- called "firescaping" -- means having a plant selection based primarily on the plant's ability to reduce the wildfire threat. Minimize the use of evergreens and trees within 30 feet of your home because plants such as junipers and eucalyptus contain oils, resins and waxes that make the plants burn intensely. Avoid ornamental grasses and berries because they also can be highly flammable. Plants with high moisture content that are low growing are "fire smart." Their stems and leaves are not oily or waxy.
4. Maintain a "fire safe" landscape On steep slopes, keep thin, flammable vegetation at a safe distance (at least 100 feet) from your home. Canopies of large trees should not be clumped together. Within 30 feet of your house, choose ornamental landscaping plants that are fire smart and noninvasive. Maintain all plants by removing dead branches, leaves and needles.
5. Create access To help fire crews reach your home quicker in the case of a fire, you can take a few extra steps to help not only yourself, but your home, stay safe. First, identify at least two roads out from your neighborhood. Maintain your driveway to allow large emergency equipment to reach your home by clearing flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and driveways. Also, cut back overhanging tree branches above roads. so fire engines can get through.
Source: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District