With summer just around the corner, many of us will head to the woods to fish, camp and explore the wild places in our backyard. But before you head out for your next adventure, take some time to prepare your home and property for the summer wildfire season. We all felt the effects of the 2017 wildfire season in some way or another, and it is our collective responsibility to make our homes and neighborhoods as safe as possible as we move into the 2018 season. Here are a few tips on how to help make your home and property more fire safe this summer.
- Clear all flammable debris from the roof, gutters and around your home. Tree litter (needles, leaves) on or around your home is highly flammable and easily ignited by airborne burning embers.
- Mow or weed-whack grass around barns and other outbuildings. Call the Douglas Forest Protective Association for current restrictions.
- Check your roof and gutters at least twice annually, fall and spring; remove any flammable debris (nearby madrone trees, which lose their leaves in early summer, necessitate removal during summer too).
- Rake leaves and needles away from your home, decks and outbuildings. Also, screen the underside of your deck.
- Keep all grass and weeds mowed to less than 4 inches in height. Dry grass and weeds are very hot, flashy fuels that ignite easily and spread quickly. Flames can be 3 times the height of the grass. Mow or weed-whack vegetation near barns and other outbuildings, around vehicles, RVs, fences, along roadways and under power lines. Avoid grass fires by mowing before fire season when grasses are still green. Mowing in the spring will also reduce the chance of weeds maturing and spreading viable seed. Mowing may be restricted or prohibited during fire season. However mowing may be prohibited entirely under extreme conditions; check with the DFPA for current restrictions.
- Clear all flammable material away from electric fences to prevent a ground fire from igniting. Is your line tester functioning on your electric fence? Help avoid a grass fire by inspecting the tester and all fence connections often for shorts in the line.
- Remove highly flammable plants such as juniper and replace with attractive, fire-resistant plants. There are a variety of ground covers, flowers and even trees and shrubs to choose from. Both native species and ornamentals can be used.
- During summer, never store flammable materials near your home. Flammable items such as firewood and even patio furniture are easily ignited by airborne burning embers. Move all firewood piles at least 300 feet away from all structures in the spring. During fire season, patio furniture cushions are especially susceptible to embers and should be stored indoors when not in use, when your home is unattended, or if a wildfire is near.
- Make sure your family is prepared if a wildfire strikes nearby. Create a family emergency preparedness plan and prepare emergency evacuation kits. Discuss and practice home evacuation plans and routes with all family members. Be sure to include pets and livestock in the plan.
Contact the Douglas County Extension Service at 541-672-4461, the Douglas Forest Protective Association at 541-672-6507, or your local fire department for more information on how to stay fire safe this summer.