COVID-19 has made in-person meetings difficult, but that doesn’t have to stop your educational outreach with fellow residents. Move those gatherings with your neighbors online with these three “immediate zone” resources from Firewise USA to spark the conversation about how they can reduce the risk of wildfire around their homes.
For an introduction, share your screen and talk through the, “How to Prepare your Home for Wildfires” 1-pager (available in English and Spanish) that will help your fellow residents better understand the wildfire home risk. The document reviews vegetation management needs. It gives guidance on reducing the risks from embers on roofing, vents, decks, porches, sidings, and windows. It also addresses emergency responder access, their safety, and tips for your wildfire emergency action plan.
Next, dive deeper into the “immediate zone” of 0-5 feet around structures with the most recent wildfire research fact sheet from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and Firewise USA, which focuses on the “Immediate (Noncombustible) Zone”. The document provides key observations and actionable recommendations from the latest wildfire science research on how to create and maintain 5 feet of noncombustible space around the exterior of a building.
Finally, call on your neighbors to put this knowledge into action by agreeing to do simple activities around their homes on their own that can reduce wildfire risks. These include:
1) Raking and removing pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. And if you have the time, continue raking up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
2) Cleaning pine needles from your roof and gutters and paying attention to maintaining the home ignition zone.
3) Getting out your measuring tape and seeing how close wood piles are located to the home. If they are closer than 30 feet, relocate them to at least 30 feet away from structures.
4) Sweeping porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Raking under decks, porches, sheds, and play structures.
5) Mowing grasses to a height of 4 inches or less.
6) Removing items stored under decks and porches and relocating them to a storage shed, garage, or basement. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors and should be located away from the home.
As an additional resource, IBHS has a series of “Weekend Wildfire Preparedness” projects that highlight what residents can do to create defensible space, maintain their roofs & gutters, seal garage doors to protect against ember intrusion, maintain decks, assess their overall wildfire risks, and most importantly, promote the value of talking with neighbors. Their corresponding image cards can become slides that continue the conversation amongst your fellow residents on your video call.
Now, go host an online meeting with your neighbors on one of the many video-conferences platforms and show these 3 (plus one more) “immediate zone” resources during your educational outreach event.
Additionally, you can also link to these resources from your community website or social media page to spread the educational outreach message with neighbors and collectively reduce your risk from wildfire.
Want even more? Check out our recent blog that shares 3 videos for your community’s next online gathering.
As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.
Follow NFPA’s FireBreak blog and you can also follow me on twitter @LucianNFPA for more international wildfire and policy related topics.