Fire Safety

How to protect the exterior of your home from a fire

Fires are one of the scariest disasters we can encounter at home. We think we’re prepared to handle an emergency by keeping fresh batteries in our smoke detectors, stashing a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink, and educating our families about what to do if there is a fire. However, there’s a lot more to know about protecting your home from a catastrophe.

While many homeowners spend time and money putting safety precautions into place to prevent fires in their homes, most overlook the process of fire protection when it comes to the outside of their homes. After all, having the most sophisticated security system or installing fire-resistant flooring won’t save you from a blaze if someone flicks a lit cigarette into the pile of dry leaves surrounding your house.

With this in mind, here are some tips to make the exterior of your home just as safe as the inside when it comes to preventing a fire.

Maintain your landscaping

Fall is approaching, which means there will be a lot of dry leaves on the ground, on your roof, and in your gutters. These are extremely flammable. Make sure to collect and dispose of dry leaves often to prevent a possible fire from spreading. Dead grass, plants, and weeds will also need to be cleared from your yard and out from under your deck.

Provide easy access for the fire department

Make sure that your driveway is long and wide enough for a fire truck to access your home as directly as possible. In an emergency, a logistical snafu such as this can mean the difference between life and death. Or, at the very least, serious damage to your home.

Keep trees at a safe distance

If you live in a heavily wooded area, ensure that your home is at least 30 feet away from nearby trees. Also, trim the trees on your property regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees. This will prevent a fire from spreading from the woods to your home, or vice versa.

Retrofit flammable portions of your home

Wood shingle roofing is a popular choice for homeowners due to its aesthetic appeal, but it can be a fire hazard. Non-flammable roofing materials, like asphalt or metal shingles, are much safer. Retrofitting your home with flame and ember resistant vents can also save your home in the event of a fire.

Install a rooftop sprinkler system

Exterior sprinkler systems are used to wet down the outside of your home and prevent flying embers from igniting it. What’s more, the soaked area releases moisture into the air, lowering the ambient temperature and increasing the humidity. Since fire thrives in hot, dry conditions, the flames will ideally be deflected and leave your home unscathed.

Photography: Franz-Marc Frei/Corbis

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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