Prepare Your Home for the Oregon Fire Season
The summers are getting hotter, and here in Oregon, a severe fire season has become more and more of an inevitability each year. There’s not much you can do but do your best to prepare your home, ensuring that you can get through it as safely and comfortably as possible.
Especially if you live near a wooded area that is vulnerable to the yearly wildfires, you’ll need to make sure your home is prepared. There are several steps to this, which will both reduce the chances of fire reaching your home and ensure that you’re comfortable when distant fires reduce the air quality. You’ll need to create a defensible space, harden your home, and invest in an air purifier. Portland, Oregon, homes are required by law to have certain measures in place to protect them from fires. Read on for more information about how to prepare your home for the Oregon fire season:
Start By Creating a Defensible Space
Oregon law requires what is known as a Defensible Space to be created around your house, reducing the ability of a fire to reach the house itself. The specifics of this law may vary depending upon where you are located, but broadly, you are required to create a buffer between your home and any nearby wilderness area that surrounds it. This means you’ll need to reduce vegetation, shrubs, and other potentially flammable sources around the home.
Closer to the home itself, you should create an ember-resistant zone. That means within about five feet of your house, you should ensure there are no combustible materials at all. This means removing all barks, mulches, and small shrubs that can catch fire or serve as kindling, ultimately setting the home on fire. Replace mulch within the ember-resistant zone with gravel or concrete. Try to ensure that your trash and recyclables are kept at a safe distance from the home.
Within up to 30 feet from the home, you’ll want to make sure that you regularly remove any dead or dried-out vegetation. Take care to water all your plants thoroughly so that they’ll remain hearty and fire-resistant. If you have any items that might catch fire, such as outdoor picnic tables or other furniture, keep them separate from trees, shrubs, and other fire hazards.
Within 100 feet of your home, woodpiles and propane tanks are permitted but should be kept separate from any other possible fire hazards. Fallen leaves, dried pine needles, and pinecones should be raked away. Space should be made between individual shrubs to keep fires from spreading.
Harden Your Home Against Fires
You’ll need to contact a few contractors to make sure that your home is properly prepared for the Oregon fire season. First, you’ll want to reduce the instances of flammable material on and around the home. This includes roofing shingles. Opt for a nonflammable material such as slate or clay, rather than wood. Utilize noncombustible materials for other elements of your home as well, including your rain gutter, chimney, and deck.
Double-pane windows can be installed as an extra measure of protection from radiating heat. Mesh screens should be used to cover the chimney top and vents to prevent stray embers from flying into the house.
If a fire approaches your home, expect an evacuation, but even a distant fire can have a dramatic effect on the safety of the area. Having multiple HEPA filters installed in the home can help remove the smoke from the air, preventing the health risks associated with breathing it in. The best air purifier Portland, Oregon, has to offer can be installed by Entek. We can ensure your air quality remains good even as fires rage in the distance.
You’ll also want to look into fire-resistant materials for the walls in your home. Wood can be treated with fire retardant, or certain other materials, such as stucco, are ignition-resistant. The key is to not allow a wildfire any purchase should it get close to the home.
Have a Plan in Place
If the worst happens and a fire gets near your home, you’ll want to make sure that you have a plan in place and that your family knows what to do in an emergency. There should be fire extinguishers readily accessible everywhere in the house. There should also be several emergency supply kits handy, which include nonperishable food, water, flashlights, and first aid kits. One of these kits should be kept in the car.
The driveway of your home should be kept clear in case of a last-minute evacuation. Everyone in the home should be briefed on the escape routes, and there should be a meeting place designated should the family become separated. It’s also a good idea to have radios handy if you need to communicate and cell phone reception has failed. A portable radio can also update you on what the latest news is regarding the fires.
Stay Safe from the Smoke
As we mentioned above, fires will dramatically reduce the air quality in the area, even if the fire doesn’t come anywhere near your home. The smoke can cause allergies as well as exacerbate conditions such as asthma and other breathing issues.
Fire smoke consists of very fine particles of about 0.4 to 0.7 microns, which means the standard air purifiers Portland, Oregon, homes have just won’t cut it. It’s important to have a true HEPA filter installed. HEPA is short for “high-efficiency particulate air” filter and can do the job of removing all of those ultra-fine particles from the outside air.
Ask your contractor what’s involved in having HEPA filters installed in your home. Usually, they can be installed directly into your HVAC system. They should be run continuously for about an hour after being installed to first begin purifying the air. Regardless of whether they have been filtering out smoke from distant fires, your HEPA filters will need to be replaced regularly, which is a service that your dedicated HVAC professional can perform.