LOS ANGELES, Calif. (May 22, 2017) – California had one of the wettest winters on record and the above-average rainfall has given life to lush vegetation, perfect fuel for wildfires when the scorching heat of summer arrives.
Californians are urged not to let their guard down because of the recent rain, but to educate themselves about fire preparedness – it takes only a spark to ignite a wildfire.
“If this summer turns out to be anything like 1984, 1999 or 2011, years of heavy rainfall, Californians need to be prepared for an increase in the number of fires,” says Randy Petro, Mercury Insurance chief claims officer. “Homeowners in fire-susceptible areas need to take a variety of precautions before the summer wildfire season.”
• Create a fire buffer zone of at least 30 feet around houses. Increase this space to 50 feet if you live in a wildfire high risk area. Remove all buildup of pine needles and leaves from roofs, gutters and lawns. Keep tree limbs cut back at least 10 feet from chimneys and remove dry limbs overhanging the home and garage. Finally, plant native fire resistant plants and create low fuel hardscapes.
• Replace exterior flammable materials on homes with siding and roofs that have at least a fire-resistance rating of one to two hours. Fire-retardant roof materials such as tile are recommended. Exterior home walls should be built with materials like stucco or brick and should also have double-pane and tempered windows. Do not connect wood fences to your home. Place screens over vents to prevent embers from entering your home. California law requires a spark arrestor constructed of 12-gauge minimum welded or woven wire mesh screen, with openings no larger than a half-inch over your chimney outlet.
• Move flammable and combustible items at least 50 feet from your home. Firewood, outdoor patio furniture, picnic tables, boats, propane tanks, etc., should be clear of homes and other structures.
• Keep irrigation systems in working order. Check hoses and sprinkler systems to ensure proper functionality and coverage of your entire home, including roofs and exterior structure walls. Have a ladder available to access roofs.
• Pools can serve as a water source for fighting fires. Have your pool accessible for fire engines to get within 10 feet. Pumps with suction hoses that reach the bottom of the pool can also be used.
• Make sure your street number is visible so emergency crews can quickly identify your home during an emergency.
Additional details can be found at www.fire.ca.gov and www.firewise.org.