Normally, the month leading up to the Holidays is full of festive gatherings and frantic shopping. Unfortunately, in sections of Southern California the past few weeks have been smoke-filled and seen thousands of residents evacuated from their homes due to blazing fires.

Unprecedented in ferocity, the Thomas fire, Skirball fire, Creek fire and Wilson fire have swept through acres upon acres of our beautiful state, misplacing families and consuming homes.

We wanted to highlight a few steps that be can taken to “fire-proof” your home when building or renovating:

  1. Install vents that block embers and flames from entering.
  2. When choosing windows, opt for multilayered, tempered glass in a metal frame, such as steel.
  3. When choosing siding, avoid wood or poly­vinyl in favor of a noncombustible material like stucco.
  4. Airborne embers can travel a mile, and the large surface area of a roof makes it most at risk. Use a nonflammable material, such as slate, with closed eaves, and keep the roof and gutters clear of debris.
  5. Wooden decks can quickly turn into ignition areas. Build them out of stone, brick, or concrete.

These suggestions come courtesy of an inspiring post from Sunset.com – this story highlights the experience of the Kornbluth Family whose Santa Barbara home burnt down in May 2009.

Also, some quick pointers in how to “fireproof” your house in day to day life.

  1. Respect your outlets: they draw a lot of power and could overload electrical circuits, which could lead to a fire.  Try plugging large appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, etc) directly into wall outlets, rather than an extension cord or power trip. When it comes to heat-producing appliances such as a coffee maker it is always a good to unplug them when not in yours (and definitely when gone for the weekend or a longer trip!)
  2. Always, always keep a FUNCTIONING fire extinguisher in the house. Also, take the time to learn how to use a fire extinguisher (because what good will one be in an emergency if you do not know how to use it?!)
  3. Along the same lines, provide routine tests of your fire alarms – yes, plural – there should be one in every bedroom as well as a separate one in the areas outside the bedrooms.
  4. Use your yard to create defensible space. Clear the area 100 feet around your home of dead grass and leaves. Space out vegetation and trim tree branches.
  5. Be sure to have a well-rehearsed escape plan! Everyone in the family or building should be aware of said plan to ensure that all parties know how to behave should disaster strike.

While a house can be rebuilt, the heartbreak of losing a home and one’s sense of security has become a harsh reality for hundreds. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those hurting this season and we thank all those who continue to fight to protect our communities.