As wildfires become more of a normal occurrence in Western NC and resources continue to be stretched thin, homeowners have a larger responsibility to protect their home from wildfire. When we live in a fire-prone area like the forests of Southern Appalachia we must accept the fact that fire is going to happen at some point and take steps to prepare our family, home, and land.
"It's not if a wildfire will affect the area I live in, it's when it will happen."
Reducing wildfire risk may seem like an overwhelming task as a landowner - I'm not a firefighter or forester!? As mentioned in this FAC NET article, "even small actions can have a big impact on fire outcomes for your home, family, and community."
Some preparedness tasks cost nothing to do and can be tackled during your lunch break! See below for examples of small actions you could tackle in 10-60 minutes:
Prepare your family, home, and land
Make sure your phone is set up to receive local emergency alerts: Information for Emergency Alerts. If you are planning a vacation in a wildfire-prone area, sign up for local emergency alerts for your destination.
Put up a reflective 911-address sign, or if you already have one make sure it is visible from both directions on the street.
Prioritize connections and relationships
Call 2-4 neighbors and ask about their evacuation plans. If there are elderly residents, folks without transportation or people with other mobility challenges in your community, prioritize calls and connections with them.
Schedule a lunch date or visit with neighbors to share and discuss methods to reduce wildfire risk around your homes and in your community.
Protect your assets
Conduct an insurance check up to ensure your coverage is up to date and sufficient. Secure renter's insurance if you do not already have coverage and need it. More information on insurance considerations
Create a video walk through of your home or an inventory list of belongings and upload it to cloud storage.
Backup your important documents and photos to cloud storage.
Build and maintain defensible space around your home. Some of these projects may take longer than your lunch break but you could get a start!
Review your wildfire risk home assessment and develop a plan to tackle your mitigation priorities. Put it on the calendar!
Blow leaves at least 30 feet away from your home.
Prune branches or remove shrubs that are within 5 feet of the home.
For bigger projects, schedule a site visit with a contractor to provide an estimate.
Educate yourself and share with neighbors and friends
"Roofs and Gutters - Episode 1" mitigation video (2 min)
"Your home can survive a wildfire" video (14 min)
"Safer from the Start: Developing a Firewise Community" video (18 min)
"Protecting Our Home and Forests" The Fire Learning Trail Podcast episode (18 min)
"Firewise Wildfire Mitigation in WNC Mountains" video (22 min)
"The Gift of Fire" Fireline Podcast episode (35 min)
Find ways to reduce your risk by tackling small tasks often. Build momentum by engaging with neighbors and friends. Make a challenge or monthly goal on your street to encourage everyone to do their part. Every little bit counts!
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way" -Napoleon Hill.