You’ve probably noticed already it’s been pretty dry this year. Just how bad has it been? The 4’th driest in nearly 150 years!The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting an earlier and potentially more widespread fire season than we’ve seen in decades. For those of us living in the Bay Area this is particularly startling news because we live in an area rich with trees, forests, and of course brush. Whether you live in a wooded area or in the city, there are important pre-emptive measures you can take to protect your home and your family from our increasing threat of fires and wildfires.
The most important thing you can do to reduce the threat of a wildfire is maintain the area immediately surrounding your home. The City of Santa Cruz Fire Department has excellent information on their site for lowering your property’s susceptibility to fires. They recommend creating a perimeter of at least 30 feet, and preferably 100 feet of “defensible space” in all directions. Defensible space is area where brush and weeds are removed, trees and plants are regularly pruned, and vegetation is regularly watered so it’s less flammable. This not only helps protect against the rapid spread of fire, it maintains the great look of your property. If you live in a forested area it’s especially important to have no overhanging branches near your roof, or tall plants near the home.
Dead vegetation, dry grasses and wildflowers, standing and fallen dead trees and stumps, dead needles/cones/branches, firewood within 30 feet of the house.
Trim and maintain:
Tree branches, plants over 3 feet tall, grass
For those of us in cities or areas with low tree density, it’s still important to take the same precautions. Make sure you have no dead brush or weeds in your yards, and your grass is regularly cut and maintained. Fires most commonly spread from the roof area, so make sure once again that there are no low tree branches overhanging your roof. Having a well maintained and fire retardant roof is extremely important as well. Most insurance companies won’t accept homeowners insurance policies on homes with wood shingle roofs, so consider replacing with a tile or asphalt shingle roof to lower your chances of your home catching fire from a nearby blaze.
Another aspect that dramatically affects your susceptibility to a fire is the slope of your land. Fire travels uphill, and the steeper the slope, the quicker and easier a fire will travel. If you live on sloped land, you should clear even further from your home, and any firewood or flammable material should be stored uphill.
Our fire danger is very real this year, and by taking the necessary precautions to protect your home and your family, you can greatly increase your chances of your home surviving a nearby fire. Lastly, make sure your home is adequately insured! At Nelson Insurance we run annual reconstruction estimates, but if you’ve made any structural changes or just want to review your coverage, let us know. We’d love to get together and make sure everything is current and up to date so we can protect your family properly.
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Owner of Paul Nelson Insurance, and resident of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties for 30 years.