Wildfire awareness: Things to do to protect your home

This spring’s early season wildfires in Alberta are another stark reminder of the impacts of major events. With wildfires increasing in frequency and intensity, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. If you live in or near a forested area, here are some steps you can take to help protect your home.

Yard work
During fire season, you should regularly clear away any natural, combustible materials on your property. Rake up leaves and clear away any dead branches and other debris. Mow the lawn and prune any dead limbs from trees or shrubs.

Storage smarts
Don’t leave combustible patio furniture and cushions on your deck or porch. Instead, store those in a detached garage or shed when not in use.

If you have propane barbecue tanks, store those as far away from the building as possible. And never store firewood against the house. In addition to being potential fuel for a wildfire, insects will use it to set up home right next to – and possibly inside – yours.

Home renovations
If you are building or renovating your home in an area where wildfires are a risk, select more fire-resistant materials for the exterior, such as metal roofing, masonry walls or fibre cement board for the siding.

Triple-paned windows and fire-rated exterior doors can also help prevent fire entering your home through those vulnerable spots.

If you’re building a deck, consider non-combustible composite materials. And, if you have a wooden fence, there should be at least a 1.5 metre gap – or a barrier of non-combustible materials such as gravel, river rock and patio stones – between it and the house.

Prepare for evacuation
Monitor local emergency services for any evacuation orders. Make sure your vehicle is fuelled up, with the windows closed and is facing the street in case you need to make a quick getaway.

You should always have an emergency bag prepared with essentials including cash, your passports, insurance info and other important documents, medicine, non-perishable food, water, a flashlight and a first-aid kit.

Finally, close all windows and doors, and turn off your propane or natural gas supply before you leave.

You can find more advice on how to protect your home from a Co-operators advisor in your area. Find more fire safety tips at firesmartcanada.ca

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