Guard your property from wildfires
The recent devastating fires in Bastrop and Smithville remind us that once a fire starts, it moves fast enough to get out of hand quickly. It’s always destructive and sometimes deadly. Here are a few tips to help you protect your home and yard from the ravages of fire.
Outside the home. Remove debris from your roof and clean gutters regularly. Eliminate vegetation and any debris up against the house. Use non-combustible materials like gravel, brick, or concrete in those areas. Don’t use the grill or an outdoor fire pit or chiminea near the house or other outdoor structures. Allow barbecue coals to cool a minimum of 24 hours before disposing of them.
In the garage. Properly dispose of oily rags and other combustible materials. Store gasoline and other flammable liquids in approved containers. Never leave oily rags and open gasoline cans sitting around.
If you live in the country. Fires are more likely in rural areas. Create a fireproof zone (100 feet in all directions) around your house. Fill the zone with low vegetation like grass and keep it watered. Plant trees and shrubs at least 10 feet away from the house. Can firetrucks access your home? Is your road clearly marked? Is it narrow or steep? Inspect your drives and entrances to make sure that a fire truck can find and access your home in an emergency.
For the kids. Discuss what to do in the event of a fire with your family. Have a fire escape plan, including a pre-arranged meeting place once out of the house, but don’t just talk to your kids about it. Perform fire safety drills. Crawl around on the floor to simulate crawling under a cloud of smoke. Have the kids practice opening and climbing out the window and down a ladder or dropping into your arms.
Always have a working fire extinguisher and smoke alarms. Don’t forget to change the smoke alarm batteries every six months!