Summer is fast approaching and with the prediction of drought conditions, many of us are a little uneasy about the possibility of wildfire. Now is the time to put that nervous energy to work in making our properties more fire-resistant and making plans to keep ourselves, our family, and our pets or livestock safe.
There are many things we can do to achieve wildfire preparedness, but it can become overwhelming. That is why the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District recommends undertaking this challenge in bite-sized chunks. For the next few weeks, we will share with you tasks that can make your home and property more fire-resistant.
According to Firewise USA and the National Fire Protection Association, we should look at our property in three separate zones. The immediate zone (0 to 5 feet from your home) is the first zone to tackle this weekend.
Get your family involved and start on this list:
• Remove dead leaves, twigs, pine needles, and other flammable materials from your roof, gutters, under decks or porches, and in nooks and crannies around your home.
• Prune any tree branches away from your roof.
• Clean your vents and screened areas below decks and porches. Make sure the screens are wired with one-eighth-inch mesh. This size will reduce the chance of embers entering your attic or getting under your home.
• Enclose your eaves or screen with one-eighth-inch wire mesh to prevent embers from entering your home through vents.
• Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace missing or secure loose pieces to keep embers from getting under this layer. Also, cover the ends of tiles with bird stops or cement to prevent ember access.
• Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows.
• Move construction material, trash and woodpiles at least 30 feet from your home and outbuildings.
• If you have dead or dried plants, weeds or grass within 5 feet of your home or outbuildings, remove them. If you allow your lawn to go dormant in the summer, mow it short.
• Always dispose of branches, leaves, pine needles and grass clippings to reduce fuel for wildfire.
Just a side note, if you use an organic mulch or landscape bark near your home, keep it moist so embers cannot ignite the material. Another option is to consider non-flammable options like shells or rock.
We thank Firewise USA and the National Fire Protection Association for this timely and useful information.
Next week we will look at the Intermediate Zone for the tasks we need to tackle.
For additional information on wildfire preparedness, check out the OSU Cooperative Extension webinar series "Fire Aware. Be Prepared. Wildfire Wednesdays." This webinar series has been recorded at extension.oregonstate.edu/fire-program so you may view an episode at your convenience.
Lisa Kilders is the education and outreach program manager for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.
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