Wildfires in the news are a reminder that North Carolina ranks among the top states in the country for the number of homes in the Wildland Urban Interface: the transition zone between unoccupied land and human development. Homes adjacent to—or surrounded by—forests and other unoccupied land are at risk for wildfires, as are communities within one-half mile of this zone. The risk to your home, though, depends on many factors.
Take the quiz!
Your home and yard
– Do you have a combustible, wooden shake roof or wooden or vinyl siding?
– Do you have decks, porches, or overhanging eaves that could trap heat from a fire?
– Do you have large picture windows or vents that could provide heat access to the interior of your home?
– Do you have combustible plants, such as ornamental grasses or evergreen trees and shrubs (pines, rhododendrons) within 35 feet of buildings?
“Yes” to any of these questions may be reason for concern!
– In case of fire, where would the fire department get their water? And whence cometh the water if the fire crew must bring water in and needs to replenish their tanks? Is a water source—such as a lake—readily accessible?
– How close can firefighters get their equipment to your house? (Think of parking a big dump truck.)
– Are your street or road signs and mailboxes fireproof so that a fire crew can find you?
I’m sure these questions will raise other questions! Consider asking your local fire department to make a visit, look things over, and give recommendations about how to make your property more firewise. Insurance agents may also make suggestions about improving fire safety.
A final word: If you keep any important papers in your home, such as wills, titles, and irreplaceable photos, store them in a fireproof container. If you anticipate that an evacuation could be imminent, take action! Pack those documents and other priceless belongings, along with basic clothing and any medications you many need, in your vehicle. And park that vehicle headed out!
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.
Read more about firewise landscaping and protecting your home: