The greatest threat to the home from outside is fire. To increase the integrity of your house against an encroaching wildfire, take the following precautions:
Make sure your home is properly numbered, with the address clearly visible from the street. Use letters and numbers at least 4 inches tall that contrast with the background. Address signs should be fire resistant.
Every street should be properly and clearly marked and able to support 40,000 pounds -- the standard weight of fire engines. Each dead-end and long drive must have adequate space to allow equipment to turn around.
Keep all highly flammable, resinous or dry plants at least 30 feet from your home. These include all species of evergreens. Replace these with low-resin, moist plants that grow close to the ground and will not accumulate dead leaves or twigs.
Sharon Roesch, fire prevention officer at the state Division of Forestry, said a well-cared-for lawn is one of the best options around a building.
"You can have bushy plants in your yard," she said. "If you have a nice big birch or aspen tree, that's good."
Make sure all trees are pruned away from roofs, chimneys and power lines.
"You can sure tell when we have a wind storm," Roesch said, "because we get a rash of power line fires."
Thin out heavily wooded areas, leaving approximately 10 feet between trees. Remove dead, weak and diseased trees.
Clean gutters, roofs and other areas of debris regularly.
Enclose eaves, foundations, the undersides of porches and other places prone to collecting dead leaves with fine wire mesh -- no larger than 1/8 of an inch -- to prevent embers from getting in. "If the wind can blow leaves in, it can blow embers in, too," Roesch said.
Move all flammable materials -- firewood, gas tanks, burn barrels, ash cans, etc. -- at least 30 feet from all structures, leaving plenty of room between each.
Cover house vents and stove-pipe openings with nonflammable 1/4 inch screen.
Install fire-resistant roofing and siding, if not already so equipped.
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