By BreAnn Stephenson
A recent study produced by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 9 of the 10 worst fire seasons in the past 50 years have all happened since 2000, and 2015 was the worst fire season in history. With the prospects of wildfire frequency on the rise, those living and investing in communities at a high risk of wildfire should take this risk seriously and make a plan to reduce it. Creating good “defensible space” around your property can be surprisingly effective. Though there are no absolute guarantees, the preventive steps mentioned below may give you a fighting chance against the next inferno.
These 13 States Have the Highest Wildfire Risk:
(Source: 2015 Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis)
- New Mexico
But Wait… It’s Not Just California & the West
Though California has had the spotlight the last couple years when it comes to wildfire, developing drought in the east has begun to impact states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida. Areas like Gatlinburg, Tennessee experienced devastating losses in late fall of 2016, with the Chimney Tops 2 Fire killing 14 and damaging or destroying roughly 2400 buildings. The West Mims Fire, burnt its way along the Florida/Georgia line, consuming over 150,000 acres.
Tips to protect your properties from wildfires
(Source: National Fire Protection Association)
- Keep a fire-free perimeter of 100 feet or more around your property.
- Cut back vegetation along fences and cut tree branches 6-10 feet up.
- Make sure decks, patios, eaves and porches are free of all debris such as leaves and pine needles.
- Wood piles, fuel tanks and other radiant heat sources should be moved away from the property.
- Creating proper “defensible space” may include clearing trees or shrubs close to the main structure and garages.
- “Fire-resistant landscaping” may include replacing mulch with rock gardens and fire-resistant plants.
- Develop a good relationship with your local fire department, and follow its guidelines.
- Instruct tenants to develop a family preparedness plan. Drills will help them be ready for a wildfire.
- Find more safety information at www.firewise.org.