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6 Tips to Protect Your Home from Wildfires
Posted By Andrew Michler On July 23, 2013 @ 11:00 am In Architecture,Design,Disaster-proof design,Environment,environmental destruction,Features,News | 1 Comment
Wildfire photo from Shutterstock
Fire season hit the West early this year and with a vengeance, threatening homes and lives. Proper preparation can really make the difference between a saved home or a pile of embers and broken hearts during a wildfire - read on for six important steps to protect your castle if a fire comes licking at the doorstep.
The first step is often the most effective, and it’s a doable project for a homeowner: clear combustible debris from around the house. This includes obvious things like dry grass, brush, stacks of firewood and debris – and some not so obvious things like a wood fence and even a wooden deck. Defensible spaces  should stretch out at least 30 feet from a house, and large concentric rings of fuel reduction set further out improve the odds. The clearer the area, the better the chance a fire crew will stay to protect your property.
Photo Denver CBS4 
Eaves and vent openings are a perfect place for embers to fly into and start a home ablaze from the interior. Making sure they are properly screened  and maintained may seem like a little detail, but it is often the first place embers can enter a house in a wildfire. Even keeping gutters clean can help protect your home’s vulnerable eaves.
Photo Andrew Michler
Roofs are often the most vulnerable part of a house in a fire, so it goes without saying that cedar shakes  are out of the question – even in urban areas. Class A rated roofs  are the norm, including many asphalt shingle types, but tile and steel are preferred options. Same goes for siding—a shingle or wood wall offers very poor fire resistance while fiber cement or stucco stands up well. A low or non-flammable underlayment dramatically improves the fire resistance.
Photo Olsen Kundig Architects 
Windows are also exceptionally venerable, as the intense heat can go right through and actually catch drapes and furniture on fire. The easy solution is replacing the window fabric with a more heat-resistant product. Windows can break as well, so smaller tempered units are more stable than large windows. The best choice is installing outside non-combustable shutters  which can be quickly closed in an emergency.
Photo Rael San Frantello Architects 
Designing a new home provides the perfect opportunity to incorporate fire-ready measures. Providing good access to the property for emergency vehicles is a must. Avoiding complex shapes  and bump outs reduces places for embers to lodge and cause a hotspot. Sprinklers help but, alas, someone needs be there to turn them on – so having a standing water source for firefighters can be just as effective.
Photo Denver 9News 
“Location, location, location” is not just a tagline for resellers. Placing a house in a thick stand of trees is plainly asking for trouble, but so is setting a home on a hilltop or overhanging a prominent rock outcropping where it becomes a clear target for a moving fire.
All too often people design their dream homes without regard for the wildland-urban interface and the hazards of oncoming fires – a few simple steps can make all the difference in protecting homes from mother nature’s fury.
+ FireWise 
Lead photo from Shutterstock 
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/6-tips-to-protect-your-home-from-wildfires/
URLs in this post:
 Defensible spaces: http://www.fire.ca.gov/communications/communications_firesafety_100feet.php
 Denver CBS4: http://denver.cbslocal.com/
 properly screened: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/how-to/articles/fire-resistant-details.aspx
 cedar shakes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shake_(shingle)
 Class A rated roofs: http://firecenterbeta.berkeley.edu/bwmg/roof-1.html
 Olsen Kundig Architects: http://www.olsonkundigarchitects.com/Projects/38/Delta-Shelter#
 non-combustable shutters: http://inhabitat.com/the-prefab-sol-duc-cabin-by-olson-kundig-architects-rests-lightly-on-four-stilts/
 Rael San Frantello Architects: http://www.rael-sanfratello.com/?p=655
 Avoiding complex shapes: http://inhabitat.com/minimalist-adobe-brick-home-is-a-box-within-a-box/
 Denver 9News: http://www.9news.com/
 + FireWise: http://firewise.gvpi.net/Information/Who-is-this-for/Homeowners.aspx
 Shutterstock: http://www.shutterstock.com/dl2_lim.mhtml?id=1249451&size=medium_jpg&src=5e45e50e820d1d362e4f89e52b00ba58-2-9&from_redirect=1
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