How Homeowners Can Prepare Their Home for a Wildfire | Island Insurance

How Homeowners Can Prepare Their Home for a Wildfire

In the event of a wildfire, first responders help protect you and your property. However, the reality is that in a major wildfire event, there may not be enough fire resources or firefighters to defend every home.

Wildfires, fueled by the build-up of dry vegetation and driven by a complex system of hot dry winds, are extremely difficult, expensive, and dangerous to control. Hawaii’s wide diversity of challenging terrains adds to the challenge for firefighters. Furthermore, climate change is increasing the length and frequency of drought periods, creating drier conditions. Scientists predict these trends will continue and even worsen, which will result in larger fires that are more intense.

Here are some actions you can take today to create defensible space and protect your home:

  • Mow the lawn and weed around the property regularly or landscape with fire-resistant plants that have a high moisture content and are low-growing.
  • Remove leaf litter and other debris that accumulate around your home, under vegetation, and near propane tanks to create 10 feet of clearance around it.
  • Eliminate ladder fuels by pruning branches on trees around the property to within at least 6 feet of the ground, using a bypass lopper, pruner saw, or long reach/hand pruner.
  • Remove flammable materials from underneath the house, decks, porches and lanai. Common flammables include scrap-wood, firewood and combustible furniture.

Roof: Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your home because it can easily catch fire from windblown embers. Build your roof or re-roof with fire-resistant materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent ember intrusion.

Deck/Patio Cover: Use heavy timber or non-flammable construction material for decks. Enclose the underside of balconies and decks with fire-resistant materials to prevent embers from blowing underneath. Keep your deck clear of combustible items, such as baskets, dried flower arrangements and other debris. The decking surface must be ignition resistant if it’s within 10 feet of the home.

Non-Combustible Materials: Make sure to use non-combustible materials for walls, decks and fencing.

Driveways and Access Roads: Driveways should be designed to allow fire and emergency vehicles and equipment to reach your house. Access roads should have a minimum 10-foot clearance on either side of the traveled section of the roadway and should allow for two-way traffic. Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.

Windows: Heat from a wildland fire can cause windows to break, allowing burning embers to enter and start internal fires. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable. Install dual-paned windows with the exterior pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire. Limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation.

Garage: Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket and hoe available for fire emergencies. Store all combustibles and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.

Water Supply: Have multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property. If you have a pool or well, consider a pump.

Unedited source can be found at:
HWMO-Your-Personal-Wildland-Fire-Protection-Guide.pdf (