Wildfire Risk: How to Protect Your Home
In Canada, about 45% of wildfires are caused by lightning in remote areas. The remaining 55% of wildfires are human caused, usually in more populated areas. While many of the fires caused by humans are extinguished, some grow exponentially to become an interface fire where the wildfire risk threatens homes and communities.
Big, interface wildfires affect homeowners enormously. Sometimes a family must pack up and leave with little notice, never knowing if their home will be there for them when emergency evacuation orders are lifted. During those times, a feeling of helplessness can overcome.
Even so, homeowners in high wildfire risk areas can do a few things on their property to alleviate a bit of the helplessness feeling by taking steps to minimize the chances of their home igniting should a wildfire threaten it.
Best Practices for Minimizing Wildfire Risk
Often, it is embers blown ahead of a wildfire which ignite on a home or brush and spread the destructive fire. According to FireSmart Canada, the zones within 10 meters (33 feet) and 30 meters (98 feet) of your home are the most critical for reducing risk—calling it the “Home Ignition Zone”. The organization has released many accessible resources for homeowners and communities to protect their property and practice risk management.
Following are a few helpful best practices to remove combustibles within the Home Ignition Zone and lower your wildfire risk.
In the Yard
- Clear dead branches, dry leaves and pine needles, and other combustible dry matter from around your home. These materials can become fuel for fires.
- Design landscaping around the home with wildfire safety in mind.
- Try to keep plants at least 1.5m (5 feet) from the foundation of your home.
- Plant fire-resistant shrubs, trees, and flowers.
- Consider gravel or rock mulch over bark mulch or plant mulch for gardens. Plant mulches can easily ignite in dry conditions.
- Avoid storing firewood directly against your home or other structure on your property.
- Choose or update to a Class A fire-rated roof material such as metal, concrete tile, and asphalt shingles.
- Consider stucco, brick, and fibre cement boards over vinyl siding for the outside of your home. Vinyl can melt when exposed to high heat of a wildfire.
- Regularly clean roof, gutters and eaves so dry leaves and material do not collect inside.
- Consider using fire rated materials for decks and porches. Simple wood construction can be vulnerable to embers and ignite during a wildfire.
- Avoid connecting wooden fencing directly to your house.
- Install non-combustible screening over vents or openings into your home.
To find out more about how your home insurance may protect you in the event of a wildfire, chat with your insurance broker.