Preparing for California wildfires: What to know about hardening your home
Alright, hello and welcome. I’m Brian Heath from KCRA three and we are here talking and getting you ready r the foupcoming wildfire season and we’re also joined by Cal Fire’s Daelni Berlant. He’sthe assistant deputy director of a fire and he’s somebody that we’ve talked to many times over the years and not just at fire scenes, but also when it comes to fire prevention and the the things that you can do to help minimize the ri. skSo Daniel Thanks for your time tonight and what Daniel let’s jump right into it because we’ve. Seen this right just the in last couple of weeks, fortunately we’ve avoided the really big wildfires but just lots of grass fires even in the Sacramento area recently, yeah, you know, especially in the last couple of weeks activity has really ticked up significantly. obviously the lack of rain that we saw in April s haled to very dry conditions and then the the last two weekends in a ro w. We’ve had red flag warning conditions critical fire weather due to guy stwinds, low humidity and you couple that with the dry. And even though we’re u yoknow only the beginning of May conditions are drying out much earlier than normal, and you know even more reason why is thpreparedness discussion is so important today. Yeah, it’s been it’s been just brutal these last couple of weeks because not only has it been so y drand now hot, but al sowe’ve had these days with really strong wis nd out there and that’s just like that’s like the recipe for disaster right. Yeah, u yoknow the wind is a coup lefactors one is especially north wi nds. There are y drwind so any moisture that may still be in the grass or in in the the the brush that those north winds actually dry out the vegetation and why that’s important is that even a bit of a if plant that looks green when those north winds blowing the humidity goes down, it sucks that moisture out. and sowhy that’s important isit means when a fire ignites, it’s going to spread very quklicy when when a when a vegetation is dryer, you then add the fact that wind is alwa. ysBlowing and so it creates an effect th atspreads the fire much more at a faster rate and even sometimes that an erratic speed and in different directions and so the wi ndreally works against usdries conditions out further and and then actual ly spreads the fire once it’s ignited. d anso you know, that’s why it’s a critical combinn atiothat creates fire weather that we have to be prepared for when wh enthose winds occur. Daniel take us behind the scenes a little bit at l CaFire to talk us through. The planning that goes on at this point in the ye arbefore we get into the really hard part of fire seas onand talk a little bit about kind of you know when we should start to prepare for thgsin well, we need the public to be prepared. now we really started preparing at the end of la styear and and many many months ago. In fact, we started hiri ngseasonal firefighters in the winter months in February, the governor allowed us and gave us the ability to bring on. Somewhere around 13 00 additional seasonal fifireghters and now it gave us this time to prepare early in the season, but we’ve already been using those firefighters not just to respond to fire s, but they’ve been doing fuel rectduion work they’ve been doing fire building fire breaks around communities perforng mi prescribed burns and so we are we llpreped armany many months ago, but may really especial ly last week being wildfire preparedness week is the time that it’s really important for all of us Californians across the Sacramento. But across e th state to be ensuring that around our home, we’re taking steps to clear de advegetation take the time to really create an evacuation plan and other things. So this is the time of year right now toy dathat we need to be having these conversations. Daniel you make a great point to talking about like the evacuation plan because so many of our viewers they live in e thrural communits iethey’ve it’s come to be almost somethg inthat you deal with on a yearly basis right being evacuated from your ho. meSometimes for days or even weeks at a time, talk a little bit about that go bag, you know we have it as a TV reporters. We’ve got a go bag if you , knowthere’s a big breaking story. We’ve gotta grab it and go, but people at home have to have a go g baas well. Right. Yeah, I always recommend and and even in my own house all my important documents are in one location so a go bag doesn’t necessarily just anme you know things that you might need like clothes. phone Chargers, but they’re the valuable items the memorabilia the photographs that are. Irreplaceable birth certificates legal documents, l alof that really should be in one location in your home so that when an evacuation is called and in some cases, people only get minutes to lee avand so you don’t have time to run in this room and grab the box of photos and run in this ro omand grab your birth certificate and run in that room and get you know your your phone charger. You’ve gotta make sure you have a to go bag an emergey ncsupply kit an emery gencsupply kit can be used for any disaster and that’s where you have water. maybe. Of your prescriptions, a first aid t a kiflashlight a spare pair of glasses, but then also for wildfire, specifically having an evuaaction kit is more. it includes all those again person alitems those those those legal documents all in one centralized location so that you can get to it access it really quickly. Daniel. We t gosome questions coming in from viewers. Let’s talk let’s take another one here. this one says what can I do to make my home safer? Fire season starts SoI know this is kind of right in your wheelhouse. This is a fastball right down the middle. Yeah. I know I appreciate that defensible space, but we’ve been talking about defensible space for decades now and and for those who don’t know what it means even if you live in a more urban area in a city within city limits, it means getting rid of any dead vegetation at least 100 feet from your home, and I really ma kethe point about if you live in the city, you still could be affected and you may not have weeds and grass you know around your home. But maybe you ha veleaves from the trees pine needles Oak leaves that th ataccumulate on your roof, removing all dead vegetation even on a city lot is so critical at least 100 feet from your home, but one thing we’ve really been been seeing in the last well Brian in last 5 years, 47 thousand homes have been destroyed by wildfires, 47 thousand. 47 thousand, so what we’ve really been able to see from this unfortunate loss is that defense will space. But so does the building materials at home is made of th atis an important factor and so hardening a home is really been a w nediscussion now new homes built since 2008 already include many of these bu ilding materials and and technologies. but for many o wh don’t own a home orwho own a home or live in a home that was built prior to the osbuilding codes retrofitting is really something that we need to be talking re moabout and that retrofitting doesn’t mean you need a contractor. It doesn’t mean you’re going . toTens of thousands of dollars there are actually items you can do today yourself as long as you have some mobility, you can do some ofthes e items for you know less than 100 bucks some even for free and that’s why home hardening really shouldn’t be something thatyou think is too hard to do but hardening your home withthese retrofit in combination with defensible space. That’s the y keto really increasing the home’s chance of surviving a wildfire and you as a homeowner or ev enas a resident renting. This is what’s going to help you protect your home the st. moin the state has some of these programs designed to specifically help people with this home. hardening right. So what are what are some of the ways that people can ask for and get that kind of help and that assistance so first off let’s talk about our low-cost retrofit list. We’ve reasleed a list and it’s published on our website and a great resource for all e thstuff we’re talking abt ouis a website ready for wildfire.org and on that website, you can learn about. Space you can learn abt home ou hardening you can learn about evacuation plans all the different steps you need to be preped arbut low cost retrofit list has ten things that you can do for retilavely cheap to help upgrade your building itself a good amplexe of something really cheap and really easy to do is you can go to your local hardware store for maybe 1015 dollars you can buy metal meshg. inThey sell it in in in in strands d you ancan cut out from that metal meshing. Circul arshape of your any of your vents in your home. Most addicts have a vent whether it be a square size or sometimes circul arcutting out metal mesh. That’s a l smalsize we still want to let airflow get into the attic, but we want to stop those embers from inudtring and getting inside and so using an event th atis is one eighth to even as small as one sixteenth. so a very small size is what’s going to allow or or prevent a number from gettin g.Inside so ten low-cost list easy to use The’ers even five things you can do that are that cost you nothing that are free, but as you mentioned e thstate, we are definitely recognizing we need to do more in th isretrofitting space and so recently the Legislature paed ssa bill that establheisd a home Harding Assistance program a financial asstsiance program for Low-income disadvantaged vuerlnable socially vulnerable populations, and we’re very quickly working with the office of. State Office of Emergency Services and a number of r othe stakeholders to seesntially develop a grant program to get homeowners and communities harded enin areas that maybe they just can’t afford it. But again, I would tip you to low-cost Retrofit list first free to low-cost things you can do but then for those that just can’t afford it and don’t have the physical capability to do it. We are working on a financial assistance program in the very near future to help communities that are vulnerable. perfect job, Daniel and one more time that weitbse. Said it was ready for wildfire.org isthat correct. that’s it ready for Wildfire.org. Okay so write th atdown folks ady refor wildfire.org. Let’s get to another question here. Daniel. So this one this viewer says how can people properly dispose ofdebris from burn piles coals from barbecues other combustible materials that and and do you see you see this kind of stuff. Start fires Dana So I’ll answer the first part. yes all of these items start fires in fact. You know one of our leading causes are debris fires and these are vegetation debris branches leaves in rural areas it is allowed unr de certain times of the year and again back to in certain communities you can burn your leesav. Yocan u burn your vegetation. It is a fast and and one of the easiest ways to get rid ofvegetation in the winter months. However, people e aroften doing thr eitheir clearance this time of year when nditcoions are right at the at the peak and are at the edge and unde r.Conditions. a simple pile of branches ignited on fi rewith the wind could carry and spread, d anso there are other ways of doing it. You can compost it. You can mulch it many refuge like your garbage companies. actually have green waste. products. Maybe you can’t fit it all into a green waste bin that you might have at your home, but there are a numb erof dumps and other refuge cents. erThat actually have green waste days where you can bring a trklucoad back of a pickup truck or a trailer filled with branches and other landsce apdebr isto the landfill and they’re able to then compost it and and actually and in some cases turn it into ener gyBiomass energy is is using these kind of branches, but to the sendco part, Kohl’s barbecues yes, these aren’t a common caesus of fires, but they do occur. It’s really important that if you have a barbecue, especially if you’re using. Something like call any type of campfire relyal, you’ve gotta ensure atth it’s properly extinguished that may be completely taking the calls and soaking them in a in a metal. bin or a metal bucket of of full water. So you’ve completely submerged it, but it’s really important that you don’t just throw als coor or anything atth that is hot right into the garbage can a loof t people clear out their fireplaces ifthey have a wood-burning stove fireplace, they take all those ashes they put them in. Paper bag They throw them in the garbage. well those hot ashes, though they may look cool, They may still be hot. You’ve goa ttmake sure that anything that was once on fire Kohl ‘sashes Any of that stuff is completely extinguished th witer waon the subject of of burning one of our viewers over here. Matthew asks about illegal burners during red flag days, he sa. ys What what are we doing tofind those people because Matthew seems to think th atthat’s not happening often enough? Daniel. What ulwod you say? The fire bad seon which fire department you’re in they’re most communities do ha veordinances that that does allow for a fine if you are burning with on a burn, no burn day couple things that’s really important if you are in a rural area that Cal fire protects you are required tohave a burn permit and then in most areas you are required to have a second permit or ma ke sure that that day you’re going to burn is a burn day by yo ur local air Pollution Control district. so there are. Steps that must occur legally before you actually burn and making sure it’s a burn day is gog in to ensure that it’s not a windy day. The conditions aren’t right but to tothe question, yes, there is unfortunate that it’s done the other thing that at let asCal fire, we have we veha a civil cost recovery program so when a fire occurs that is negligent started illegally started meaning you burned on a day, you were not allowed to burn you burn materials. you can’t burn you burn withoua t burn permit and u yostart a wildfire. We actually have the legal authorit y.And really the the public you know requiremt en that we can char geyou for the cost of suppressing that wildfire. so it’s not just a fine, but it could be tens of thousands in some situations even millions of dollars to recover the taxpayer dollars that it cost to fight that fire that was negligt enstarted. Wow. That’s that’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of money. Daniel Okay. Solet’s talk about this and we kind of touched a little bit on this a few minutes ago, but let’s go. Back toit for just a second because it’s super super important because we know that viewers are going to be at some point this summer has to evacuate order to evacuate. We just know what’s going to happen. So what e arthe first stepths at people should take once that evacuation warninis g issued well, it really starts before the warning as we mentioned have that to go kit have have those items when the evacuation warning is issued when you have a warng, inthe warning is the first step that tells you you may be asd keto evacuate. And so the the immediate thing you should start to think about are those important documents as I mentioned at the top ose th could be anywhere fr. ombirth certificates to copies of yo ur driver’s license to photos or or memorabilia, and so ensuring that you have all those items set aside is going to be very important because if you’re going to ask to evacuate, you’re not going to have a lot of time that you’re going to be ordered to evacuate you may. Be given minutes to doso another important tip is to actually take your car if it’s in the driveway or in the garage, pull it out of the garage often times in these wildfires, the fire is going to burn down. a the por wepole. The power pole may fall and you may lose electricity in your area and you don’t want to get your car stuck in the garage and while garage is built today have ability to have spring loaded easy up access even without the power I alwa ysrecommend people pull their car out of their garage. pack it up. And point your cart pointed out pointed towards the street. Most people pull right toin their garage. No in if you’ve ever driven by a fire dertpament, you’ll notice it’s the opposite for the fire engines and the fire equipment. They’re alys wa pointed out so if you’re given a warning pack that car upget those important documents, all in one location, pull the car out of the garage and then pointed out to the street. The other thing too. is we all have things on our deck or right outside of our backdoor that could bepatio furniture. It could be a barbecue anything that’s. Ifyou have the time bring it inside or at least takeit thirty feet away from the home so remove flammable items from around yo urhome. again. All of this is based on time If you have e thtime get a ladderpu t a ladder up against the house that will allow firefighters easy access to the roof if they needit while we bring in our own water supply, we may need to use your garden hose to pull out the garden hose so it’s easily accessible based on time anotr heone II skipped over that’s really important and people have died ifyou have. Cats or other pets that you can’t easily capture get them during the warning put them in their in their their can you know you’re get them ready to hit to evacuate. I can’t think of the right word. Yeah at the moment but agn aiin an emergency in a stressful situation. cats especially are really good at hiding and a lot of people you know wi llspend as much time as they can getting these members of their faly. mipets are members of our family so find your animals. When that actual evacuation order is made and you’re actually told you must leave you gotta leave without your animals. You’ve got to leave it is your your is irreplaceable. Unfortunately, animals are and that’s hard to to say and I love mine. I’m hoping my cat doesn’t walk intothe frame here or my dog doesn’t come into the room as we speak, but the bottom line is if you have a warning and you have time get those animals set them aside because to me and for probably the most that’s more important than the. That’s more important than the birth certificates. Yeah, somany great points that you made there. Daniel but I think you know for me, the biggest takeaway of all is just how precious even a few seconds can be in that moment and you just don’t want to waste the os those few precious seconds like you said whether it’s looking for the cat or whether it ‘s backing the car out of the garage as opposed to just being able to go straight ahd,ea I mean that those two or 3 seconds could very easily be the difference because. yeFlrs can move that quickly sometimes right, yeah and sadly people have died trying to find their cats and sadly people who have evacuated. I’ve talked to many evacuees over the over the years and many of emth grab under a stressful situation, the closest things to them, th eygrab a bunch of clothes t buclothes are replaceable clothes are really not meaningful, and they start to think about after they’re evacuate d.Oh shoot the box the shoe box up in the top of th e. Closet that has all the photos or u yoknow my my prized possessions that I keep in the other room and they forget about them so think about those things now set them in one location. makesure they’re easily accessible that Brian tonight that that should happen tonight so that when that evacuation occurs, you’re just grabbing it from one location, put it inthe car. You’re pulling the car out. you’re grabbing the cat you’re grbiabng the dog you’re putting themin the car and another important thing is usually in an evacuation. they’re hopefully. Will be some level of warning bere foan actual evacuation order is given and that that warning honestly, if it was me, that’s when I would leave get out of the area because another problem that we’ve had and we had it during the campfire is everybody was leaving at one time under a stressful situation and it clogs up the roads and a lot of people died in the campfire in inparadise because they just could not drive out of the fi re zone fast enough they got stuck in in. And so if it was me and my family an evacuation warning was given that would be the time that I would lee avand hey when they get the fire out, I can come back pretty quickly wa itto be told to evacuate and one more thing you may not ever be told toevacuate. The fire may happen so quick it may happen in the middle of the night There may not be preparing for first responders to notify you that the fires are coming and that you must leave so don’t bedon’t don’t wait for an evacuation order to be give n.Excellent all excellent points there. Daniel, so let’s take another question here this one’s from Bonnie and and she was talking about. Will we open our fire towe rsbefore June 1st because she says it seems like we need all the coverage wecan get what would you say to Bonnie there? Yeah, you know every area is a little dierent ffsome of our lookout towers. have actually been equipped with a camera syemst. In fact, you guys use it quite a bit if you if you see you guys have your weather sky cams we now have our fire ca. msAnd so through technology we are now running those those lookout towers and even more locations, 24hours a day 7 da ysa week, and so yes, staffing our lookouts you know is is be ena long. important way for us to to be notified when a fire occurs, but the reality is with cellphones today we actually t genotified of fires much quicker th anwe did twenty or 30 years ago when the lookouts are really needed, the fact that we’ve now been able to. Add a camera system to them, buI t just want to clear nothing you kn owreplaces an actu alhuman in those towers that has eyes on and we have some very strong volunteer programs where we have hardworking members of our community that step up and volunteer their ti mein our look at towers So the question, though, I don’t know the exact dates based on fi reconditions. Ea chof our areas is a little different, but based on our volunteer availabili tyand Looking to volunteer on our website, you can learn more about our volunteer and prevention program and look out tower staffing is one of those ways that you can help okay. So Daniel. So it’s about time that we wrap this up so give me just in and maybe thirty or 40 seconds just kind of run back through and give me a couple of those quick hits and and ick qu pointers that you wanted to really emphasize for our our views ertonight because again, it’s it’s it’s just it’s something that we. All have to prepare for here and toy daas you mentioned is the day to do it. So what do you want people tokeep in mind? So if you all remember three things about the about tonight have defense all space clear 100 feet of dead vegetati onfrom around your home. Harden your home retrofit it wi thbuilding materials that will r ouamber resistant that will help your structe ur survive the embers of a wildfire third have an evuaaction. go back withall your important documents all your valuables in. So that when an evacuation warning or order is given you can quklicy lee av defensible space home, hardening and evacuation plan and kits. Those are critical items that today tonight, I hope you start to make sure you your falymi and even your home are prepared for fire seas. on Okay. great stuff Daniel Thank you as always for your time and on behalf of everyby odat KCRA and all of our viewers. just thank you. than ksfor all that you and all the brave Cal firefighters firefighters do to precott. Homes and protect our property. We sure appreciate it and we’re certainly going to need to lean on you again this summer. Yeah. Thanks Brian for the time.
Preparing for California wildfires: What to know about hardening your home
As California faces another drought, the potential for devastating wildfires is on the minds of many in the state. Fire conditions have worsened in recent years, and last year’s record-setting wildfire season in California scorched more than 4% of the state, killed 33 people and destroyed more than 10,000 structures. There are different ways your home can be damaged by wildfire: direct flames from a wildfire or a neighbor’s burning home, radiant heat from nearby burning plants or structures and flying embers. Cal Fire says embers are responsible for most destruction to homes during a wildfire.With that in mind, it’s important that Californians, particularly those who live in wildfire-prone areas, take precautions to harden their homes. Here are some wildfire home-hardening tips courtesy of Cal Fire:Protect your roofThe roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes that have wood or shingle roofs are at a higher risk of being destroyed during a wildfire, compared to metal, clay, tile or composition roofs, according to Cal Fire. To better protect your roof, make sure to remove vegetative debris that may have accumulated.Cover ventsVents on homes can create openings for flying embers, so Cal Fire recommends covering vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh.Check the windowsEven before a home catches fire, heat from a blaze can cause windows to break, allowing burning embers to enter and start fires inside.Cal Fire recommends installing dual-pane windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of windows breaking during a fire. Installing screens on windows can also “increase ember resistance and decrease radiant heat exposure,” Cal Fire said.Check the walls Although wood products such as boards, panels or shingles are common siding materials, they are flammable and not ideal choices for fire-prone areas, according to Cal Fire. Ignition-resistant building materials include stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood or other approved materials.Homeowners should be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof, Cal Fire notes.Have an ember-resistant deckCal Fire recommends that decks within 10 feet of the home be built with ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials.Make sure there are no combustible materials underneath the deck. If a deck overhangs a slope, Cal Fire recommends creating and maintaining a defensible space downslope from the deck to reduce the chances of flames reaching the underside of it.Cover your chimneyCal Fire recommends covering your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.Prepare your garageHave a fire extinguisher and tools, such as a shovel, rake, bucket and hose available in the event of a fire emergency.Cal Fire recommends adding a battery backup to the garage door motor so that the garage can easily be operated if your power goes out. Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in, and store all combustible and flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources. Keep your address clearMake sure your address is clearly visible from the road, Cal Fire said.Maintain driveways and access roadsState and local codes should be followed to allow fire and emergency crews access to your home.Cal Fire recommends maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side that allow for two-way traffic.Have a water supplyCal Fire recommends having multiple garden hoses long enough to reach all areas of your home and other buildings on your property.If there is a pool or well, consider purchasing a pump, Cal Fire says.| MORE | Click here for more tips from Cal Fire
As California faces another drought, the potential for devastating wildfires is on the minds of many in the state.
Fire conditions have worsened in recent years, and last year’s record-setting wildfire season in California scorched more than 4% of the state, killed 33 people and destroyed more than 10,000 structures.
There are different ways your home can be damaged by wildfire: direct flames from a wildfire or a neighbor’s burning home, radiant heat from nearby burning plants or structures and flying embers. Cal Fire says embers are responsible for most destruction to homes during a wildfire.
With that in mind, it’s important that Californians, particularly those who live in wildfire-prone areas, take precautions to harden their homes.
Here are some wildfire home-hardening tips courtesy of Cal Fire:
Protect your roof
The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes that have wood or shingle roofs are at a higher risk of being destroyed during a wildfire, compared to metal, clay, tile or composition roofs, according to Cal Fire.
To better protect your roof, make sure to remove vegetative debris that may have accumulated.
Vents on homes can create openings for flying embers, so Cal Fire recommends covering vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh.
Check the windows
Even before a home catches fire, heat from a blaze can cause windows to break, allowing burning embers to enter and start fires inside.
Cal Fire recommends installing dual-pane windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of windows breaking during a fire. Installing screens on windows can also “increase ember resistance and decrease radiant heat exposure,” Cal Fire said.
Check the walls
Although wood products such as boards, panels or shingles are common siding materials, they are flammable and not ideal choices for fire-prone areas, according to Cal Fire.
Ignition-resistant building materials include stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood or other approved materials.
Homeowners should be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof, Cal Fire notes.
Have an ember-resistant deck
Cal Fire recommends that decks within 10 feet of the home be built with ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials.
Make sure there are no combustible materials underneath the deck. If a deck overhangs a slope, Cal Fire recommends creating and maintaining a defensible space downslope from the deck to reduce the chances of flames reaching the underside of it.
Cover your chimney
Cal Fire recommends covering your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.
Prepare your garage
Have a fire extinguisher and tools, such as a shovel, rake, bucket and hose available in the event of a fire emergency.
Cal Fire recommends adding a battery backup to the garage door motor so that the garage can easily be operated if your power goes out.
Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in, and store all combustible and flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources.
Keep your address clear
Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road, Cal Fire said.
Maintain driveways and access roads
State and local codes should be followed to allow fire and emergency crews access to your home.
Cal Fire recommends maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side that allow for two-way traffic.
Have a water supply
Cal Fire recommends having multiple garden hoses long enough to reach all areas of your home and other buildings on your property.
If there is a pool or well, consider purchasing a pump, Cal Fire says.
Preparing for California wildfires: Hardening your home Source link Preparing for California wildfires: Hardening your home