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Wildfire Protection and Home Safety Tips

Wildfire safety is essential and with dry, hot weather making them a possibility, wildfires or their smoke can pose a risk to your home and family. Taking precautions in advance like limiting the amount of flammable material around your home, having emergency procedures in place, and knowing how to deal with smoke will help keep your home and family safe.

About Wildfires


Home ignition zones

Wildfires can unfortunately spread fast, so it is important to be prepared ahead of time. Wildfires are started in several ways: by human error such as a poorly controlled campfire, by a deliberate act of arson, or by Mother Nature, such as a lightning strike. Some fires are good for the land and burn back overgrown vegetation, but fires become dangerous when they aren’t controlled or contained. These are the fires to prepare for.

Home ignition zones

Wildfire Prevention for Home and Land


The first step for preventing wildfires from damaging your home is to identify and prioritize areas or "zones" around your property that will need to be prepped before wildfire season, which is usually July through November. However, it's best to be prepared all year round, as wildfires can happen at any time.

Home Ignition Zones

  1. Immediate: This zone should extend out to about a five-foot radius from your house and all combustible material should be removed. This includes cleaning out your gutters, pruning tree limbs that are close to your home, and bigger projects like installing fire breaks in landscaping with gravel or paver walkways.
  2. Intermediate: This next zone should start five feet away from your home and extend to 30 feet. Move firewood and outdoor furniture (especially if a wildfire is nearby) at least 30 feet away from the home and keep your lawn and garden green and free of dead plant material. Wood piles should be stored in a gravel or other non-combustible area.
  3. Extended: This last zone will start 30 feet from your home and can extend up to 100 feet. In this zone, clear away all dead or dense brush and debris. Note: If using a chainsaw, be especially careful to not create any sparks while cutting.

Note: These zones can also be implemented around barn or pasture areas.

Home ignition zones

What to Do if a Wildfire is Nearby


Be aware of your surroundings and follow your local officials’ advice if there is a wildfire nearby. If you feel unsafe, the best option is to leave even if an evacuation notice hasn’t been ordered. You can use resources such as the National Weather Service and the National Fire Danger Rating System to determine if fire weather is threatening your area.

It's a good idea to have a “go-bag” ready in case you need to evacuate your home. "Go-bag" items include food and water, clothing, home or comfort supplies like baby wipes, and tools or equipment. Before you go, close any vents or pet doors to protect against rogue embers that can cause another fire. Keep your vehicle fueled up and shut off utilities like gas.

Be sure to have an evacuation plan in place. If possible, secure a place to stay (like a friend’s home or shelter) outside of the evacuated area and let family and friends know your plan. There might also be safe locations set up for livestock and pets affected by wildfire. Check with local officials to determine when it is safe to go back if you had to evacuate.

Dealing with Smoke


Even if a wildfire is not immediately threatening your home, you still might be dealing with smoke from one nearby. If you’ve ever sat at a campfire, you know that the smoke can be irritating if you’re exposed long enough, and the smell tends to permeate everything. Wildfire smoke contains ash, particles from burning plants or rubble, carbon monoxide, and other fine particulate matter that can affect your lungs.

Look at your local air quality index. Good air quality is rated from zero to 50 while moderate air quality ranges from 50 to 100. It’s unhealthy to spend extensive amounts of time breathing air rated above 100. Wildfires cause these numbers to rise, so make sure to close all doors, windows, and fireplace flues in your home. If the smoke is especially bad, pick a room that you can further seal off and use a portable HEPA air filter to help clean the air. You can run your A/C, but change your air filters when they get dirty.

With wildfire smoke in the air, it’s best to keep your home free of anything that could affect fresh air like running vacuums or burning candles. If you must go outside, wear a N95 mask and be sure to drink plenty of water. Remember to keep pets inside and give livestock plenty of water as they can be affected by smoke, too!

McCoy's Can Help You Be Prepared


The most important thing to remember is to be ready to evacuate quickly if told to do so. McCoy’s has the tools you need to help keep your family safe whether you are evacuating or not, including air filters and first aid kits. We also have everything you need to help get you prepared like chainsaws, pavers, gravel, and pruners. We hope that you never have to deal with a wildfire, but if you do, we are here to help. Stop by in-store or online to get prepared today.