Fire season has begun in Southern California. The Saddleridge Fire in the San Fernando Valley has consumed more than 7,500 acres and is far from containment.
Douglas Kent, an adjunct professor at Cal Poly Pomona and author of “Firescaping” (Wilderness Press), has worked with fire scientists, fire-fighting professionals and fire-scarred professionals since 2005. He offers the following tips to protect your home.
- Grab a pair of gloves, a handkerchief and several bottles of water for each person in your group.
- Park any cars off the driveway and roadways so emergency personal can get through.
- Pack irreplaceable items, documents, photos, laptops, books in your car.
- Pack everything you will need for a few days including medicine and glasses.
- Protect your pets. Make sure they have an ID tag even if you write your number on their coat. Grab a photo of your pet for ID purposes. Pack pet food and medicine. If you have to flee and cannot take a pet, uncage or untie it. Know which friends or shelters can help care for your pet.
- Sweep dead leaves or other dry material off of your roof.
- Clear flammable materials that are outside next to or near your home. This includes patios furniture, toys, wood piles. Move these into the garage or the house.
- Have N95 rated dust masks, which is the minimum needed for wildfires. They block 95 percent of very small particles. (Note they do not work well on people with facial hair.)
Protect the inside of your home
- Turn off the gas leading into the home.
- Close all windows and doors and eave vents.
- Remove fabric drapes from windows
- Turn off fans and heating and cooling units.
- If you need to evacuate, unlock doors when you leave in case firefighters need to get inside your home.
If You Live in Fire County
- Keep important documents together in a transportable carrying case. This includes passports, birth certificates, deed/mortgage policies, social security cards, and bank account numbers.
- Regularly sweep dead material off your roof.
- Remove all flammable material from immediately around your house.
- Make sure all dead, dying and diseased vegetation is cleared 30 feet from your house.
- Keep your landscape adequately irrigated.
- Consider replacing wooden fences, which can become “freeways of fire.”