- Roads: Have a good road to your home; this is critical. The roads should be wide enough to provide fire truck access and a safe escape route for you. Provide adequate turnarounds. Fireproof trees along the road by removing dead limbs and brush; remove dead or dying trees to reduce the chance of a fire-fallen tree blocking the road. A locked gate could prevent a fire truck from reaching your home. Remember--- your road should help establish your ring of safety around your home.
- Wood Storage: Pile firewood away from buildings. During a fire, heat from piled wood can be intense. Pile wood uphill or away from the side of your home at a safe distance. Do not stack wood downhill from your home.
- Steep Slopes: Give special attention to fireproofing work if your forest home is near draws, canyons, or steep slopes. Fire burns more rapidly uphill. Draws and canyons can have a chimney effect on a wildfire.
- Power Lines: Inspect nearby overhead power lines periodically to make sure limbs are cleared back a safe distance.
- Debris Burning: Follow all local burning regulations. If debris burning is part of your fuel reduction plan, avoid summer burning or burning when winds are gusty.
- Landscaping: Plan landscaping with fire prevention in mind.
Fireproof Your Grounds
Fuel reduction is an effective way to reduce wildfire hazards. Blend natural breaks in forest fuels with primary and secondary fuel breaks that you construct around your structures.
- Clear primary break a minimum of 10 feet, preferably 30 feet, around structures. It need not be to bare soil. A green lawn, a well-tended rock garden, ornamental shrubbery or well-spaced trees with branches pruned to a height of eight feet can do the job. Remove dense fuels that burn rapidly.
- Remove small trees, household debris, dead ground fuels and shrubs beneath large trees.
- Thin trees near buildings to 15 feet between tree crowns. Prune away dead or dying limbs.
- Keep trees that are near or overhanging any building, free of dead or dying wood.
Fireproof Your Building
You can do much to protect your structure in case wildfire does break through your fuel breaks and threatens your buildings.
- Protect your roof. Treat wood shingle roofs and siding with fire retardant chemicals. Replace this type of roof with fire-retardant substitutes.
- Clean gutters and roof of needles and leaves at least twice a year.
- Check chimneys for accumulation of soot.
- Dispose of hot ashes safely.
- Equip chimneys and stovepipes with screens.
- Keep flammable materials away from the base of buildings.
- Do not allow newspapers, rags, debris, leaves or grass to accumulate.
- Keep flammable liquids in unbreakable containers stored in a safe location.
- Keep trees and shrubs from extending within 15 feet of the outlet of a stovepipe or chimney.
Living With Fire in Santa Cruz County