Do something now to lessen wildfire risk |

Do something now to lessen wildfire risk

This year’s fire season has sparked several wildfires already. The dry, hot weather has placed half the state at fire-danger levels ranging high to extreme. With another month of summer conditions to go, the danger is still very real.

Residents are aware that it is too late to think about stopping a wildfire when the flames are lapping at the back door. Homeowners and renters can do something now to stop wildfire from destroying property and valuables.

Wildfires are especially common in the “red zone,” where mountain subdivisions overlap woodlands. But every neighborhood can be at risk for a fire. Whether in the suburbs, the city, or the forests, homeowners can take precautions that will reduce the risk of loss.

The first step is to make sure your insurance policy has enough coverage to rebuild after a wildfire. Conduct a yearly review with your insurance agent to make sure all your assets are covered.

The second step is to erect a safety area around your house. Look at your yard to determine where there are sources of fuel that may feed a fire, and then remove the risk. The firebreak around your home should be at least 30 feet away from your house, 50 feet if you live in a heavily wooded area, or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. Follow the guidelines set forth by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management and other organizations:

– Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home.

– Mow grass regularly. Clear away leaves and dead limbs, twigs, and vegetation.

– Remove tree limbs to within 10 to 15 feet of the ground.

– Keep trees and shrubs pruned and free of dead plant material.

– Remove branches extending over the roof or within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney.

– Space trees at least 10 feet apart and at least a 15-foot space between tree crowns.

– Remove vines from the house.

– Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.

– Keep irrigation systems in good repair.

– Do not attach a wooden fence to your house.

– Keep mufflers and catalytic converters away from grass or low shrubs.

Make your home as fireproof as possible. Build or retrofit the house with nonflammable materials. Use noncombustible materials on the roof. Box in the eaves, fascias, soffits, and subfloors with fire-resistant materials to keep fire from entering through the attic. Install spark arresters in chimneys. Enclose the undersides of decks with fire-resistant material. Cover exterior walls with materials like stucco, stone, or brick. If you have skylights, install material that will not melt.

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