It only takes minutes. The colorado wildfires that struck last summer were a stark reminder of the unbelievable destruction that can take place in an obscenely short amount of time. Experts estimate that more than 600 homes were destroyed, causing about $450 million in damage due to the destructive force of Colorado’s fires
Across the United States, wildfires cause billions of dollars in damage per year. In 2009 alone, 78,792 wildfires occurred in the U.S., damaging nearly six-million acres of land, FEMA statistics indicate.
Southern California is also vulnerable, as the Santa Ana winds that blow through the fall and winter can cause utter devastation.
If you want to secure your home against a wildfire or brush fire, you need to take into account the building materials and design of your home and the placement of near-home vegetation.
Examine the following eight vulnerable spots, and find out what you can do to keep your home safe from a fire.
TARGET 1 Roof Coverings and Edge
Your roof covering and the edge are the most vulnerable parts of your home. These areas endure the most exposure to the elements: rain, sun, wind and so on. During a wildfire, this is the area most susceptible to embers.
Action Step: Know your roof’s fire rating. Class A classifies the highest rating, while Class C classifies the lowest. Even if you have a Class A roof, it’s vulnerable to wildfire if the roof has a complex number of angles. Embers can more easily collect in the joints.
The material of your roof covering also makes a difference. Rounded tiles may allow openings for not only birds and rodents to enter the roof, but flame exposure. If you have a round tile roof, then you should install bird stops. They won’t necessarily keep tiny embers out of the space, but it should significantly reduce the accumulation of combustible debris.
TARGET 2 Gutters
Similarly, debris can also collect around skylights and in rain gutters.
Action Step: Clear out your gutters before fire season, because the debris can easily ignite in a wildfire. A metal gutter can hold the debris in place, so that it burns up onto the edge of the roof.
A roof edge can be vulnerable depending on the materials the builders used and how well the flashing protects the edge. A vinyl (plastic) gutter will melt and fall off. The potential is there that the burning contents will ignite materials or vegetation on the ground.
TARGET 3 Attics
If you’ve ever gone up into your attic during hot temperatures, you know that this enclosure is usually hot and dry meaning that fire will spread easily here.
Note: The most secure type of attic is ventless, and the best way to make use of this is to build your home that way. If your home is already built, experts do not advise closing off your vents without considering moisture-related damage issues.
TARGET 4 Overhangs
Wider overhangs are more susceptible