It’s Wildfire Season – Are You Ready?

Kimberly Bean
Published on June 6, 2017

It’s Wildfire Season – Are You Ready?

Wildfires make headlines, whether it’s a story about an elderly couple who broke down in tears when they returned to find a pile of rubble where their home once stood or the countless stories about brave and heroic neighbors, farmers, ranchers, veterans, and complete strangers.

“We didn’t have a chance to react. It was here, and we got out with the clothes on our back. All of our memories, everything is gone,” 70-year-old Martha Grimm tells the Associated Press’ Brian Skoloff and Kristin J. Bender.

The good news, is that last year, the incidence of wildfires was lower than it was the year before. But there is bad news, too: From January through April 2017, there were nearly 3,000 more fires than in the same time period in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

What is wildfire?

Remember when the firefighter visited your class in elementary school? He or she probably talked about the “fire triangle” – the three elements necessary for a fire to “live.” The triangle includes oxygen, fuel (flammable materials such as dry grassland, brush, trees, and homes), and a source of heat (campfire, the sun, lightning, and cigarettes, for example).

When all three elements come together in a susceptible area, a wildfire breaks out. The more fuel there is, the more intense the flames will be and the hotter and faster the fire moves.

 “Even before the flames of a wildfire arrive at a particular location, heat transfer from the wildfire front warms the air to 800 °C (1,470 °F),” according to Doug Knowling, author of “Ecological Restoration: Wildfire Ecology Reference Manual.”

Can you imagine what 1,470 degrees feels like? This extreme temperature dries out flammable materials, causing them to ignite faster and the fire to spread more quickly.

Knowling says that wildfires in forests move about 6.7 mph while those in grasslands spread at a rate of 14 mph. Not understanding how quickly a fire moves is the reason so many victims are caught off-guard and unprepared.

Protect your family and your home from wildfires

Scientists believe that the first wildfire occurred about 420 million years ago. And, before you chalk up recent blazes to climate change, understand that the most devastating fires in our country’s history occurred in the late 18th century (the Great Peshtigo Fire) in Wisconsin and the early 19th centuries (the “Great Fire of 1910”) in Idaho, Montana, and Washington.

What has changed since then is that we have more information about wildfires and how to protect ourselves. Readyforwildfire.org suggests these three preliminary steps:

Prepare your home for wildfire by:

  • Ridding your landscape of combustible materials to within 5 feet of the home. Use brick, gravel, or concrete instead. Remove tree branches that overhang the deck and house. Ensure there is no dry or dead vegetation.
  • Consider replacing your siding with noncombustible siding. Otherwise, ensure that there is a 6-inch ground-to-siding clearance,” according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Safety.
  • Maintain your roof by consistently removing debris. Hot embers love the stuff.
  • Do the same with gutters. Keep them clear of debris during fire season.
  • Replace wood fences with noncombustible materials.
  • Install 1/8-inch metal mesh over roof vents.
  • Close the windows when fire threatens.
  • Don’t forget the deck. Those boards are combustible. Maintain the defensible space mentioned in the first step.

For a more detailed list of ways to protect your home, visit disastersafety.org.

The months of June through September of 2017 have been designated wildfire season, according to the U.S. government’s National Interagency Fire Center. Last year, wildfires simultaneously raged across seven states.

Take steps now to protect your family and your home.

Brandywine MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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