Wildfire Preparedness

Homeowner’s Checklist
How to make your home Defendable


1   Design/Construction

  • Consider installing residential sprinklers
  • Build your home away from ridge tops, canyons and areas between high points on a ridge
  • Build your home at least 30-100 feet from your property line
  • Use fire resistant materials
  • Enclose the underside of eaves, balconies and above ground decks with fire resistant materials
  • Try to limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation
  • Install only dual-paned or triple-paned windows
  • Make sure that electric service lines, fuse boxes and circuit breaker panels are installed and maintained as prescribed by code
  • Contact qualified individuals to perform electrical maintenance and repairs

2   Access

  • Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood
  • Design road width, grade and curves to allow access for large emergency vehicles
  • Construct driveways to allow large emergency equipment to reach your house
  • Post clear road signs to show traffic restrictions such as dead-end roads, and weight and height limitations
  • Make sure dead-end roads, and long driveways have turn-around areas wide enough for emergency vehicles
  • Construct turnouts along one-way roads
  • Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and five feet from driveways
  • Cut back overhanging tree branches above roads
  • Make sure that your street is named or numbered, and a sign is visibly posted at each street intersection
  • Make sure that your street name and house number are not duplicated elsewhere in the county
  • Post your house address at the beginning of your driveway and on your house if it is easily visible from the road

3   Roof

  • Remove branches within 10 feet of your chimney and dead branches overhanging your roof
  • Remove dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters
  • Install a fire resistant roof
  • Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a nonflammable screen of 1/2 inch or smaller mesh

4   Landscape

  • Create a "defensible space" by removing all flammable vegetation at least 100 feet from all structures
  • Never prune near power lines.  Call your local utility company first
  • Landscape with fire resistant plants
  • On slopes or in high fire hazard areas remove flammable vegetation out to 100 feet or more       
  • Space native trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart
  • For trees taller than 18 feet, remove lower branches within six feet of the ground
  • Maintain all plants by regularly watering, and by removing dead branches, leaves and needles
  • Before planting trees close to any power line contact your local utility company to confirm the maximum tree height allowable for that location

5   Yard

  • Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures and remove vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles
  • Locate LPG tanks (butane and propane) at least 30 feet from any structure and maintain 10 feet of clearance 
  • Remove all stacks of construction materials, pine needles, leaves and other debris from your yard

6   Emergency Water Supply

  • Clearly mark all emergency water sources
  • Create easy firefighter access to your closest emergency water source by clearing away vegetation from fire hydrants for 4 feet in all directions
  • If your water comes from a well, consider an emergency generator to operate the pump during a power failure


1   Kitchen

  • Keep a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen
  • Maintain electric and gas stoves in good operating condition
  • Keep baking soda on hand to extinguish stove-top grease fires
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans containing hot liquids away from the front of the stove
  • Install curtains and towel holders away from burners on the stove        
  • Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children
  • Make sure that electrical outlets are designed to handle appliance loads

2  Living Room

  • Install a screen in front of fireplace or wood stove
  • Store the ashes from your fireplace (and barbecue) in a metal container and dispose of only when cold
  • Clean fireplace chimneys and flues at least once a year

3  Hallway

  • Install smoke detectors between living and sleeping areas
  • Test smoke detectors monthly and replace batteries twice a year, when clocks are changed in the spring and fall
  • Install child safety plugs (caps) on all electrical outlets
  • Replace electrical cords that do not work properly, have loose connections, or are frayed

4  Bedroom

  • If you sleep with the door closed, install a smoke detector in the bedroom
  • Turn off electric blankets and other electrical appliances when not in use
  • Do not smoke in bed
  • If you have security bars on your windows or doors, be sure they have an approved quick-release mechanism so you and your family can get out in the event of a fire

5  Bathroom

  • Disconnect appliances such as curling irons and hair dryers when done; store in a safe location until cool
  • Keep items such as towels away from wall and floor heaters

6   Garage

  • Mount a working fire extinguisher in the garage
  • Have tools such as a shovel, hoe, rake and bucket available for use in a wildfire emergency
  • Install a solid door with self-closing hinges between living areas and the garage
  • Dispose of oily rags in  (Underwriters Laboratories) approved metal containers
  • Store all combustibles away from ignition sources such as water heaters
  • Disconnect electrical tools and appliances when not in use
  • Allow hot tools such as glue guns and soldering irons to cool before storing
  • Properly store flammable liquids in approved containers and away from ignition sources such as pilot lights
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Maintain at least a three-day supply of drinking water, and food that does not require refrigeration and generally does not need cooking
  • Maintain a portable radio, flashlight, emergency cooking equipment, portable lanterns and batteries
  • Maintain first aid supplies to treat the injured until help arrives
  • Keep a list of valuables to take with you in an emergency; if possible, store these valuables together
  • Make sure that all family members are ready to protect themselves with STOP, DROP AND ROLL
  • For safety, securely attach all water heaters and furniture such as cabinets and bookshelves to walls
  • Have a contingency plan to enable family members to contact each other.  Establish a family/friend phone tree
  • Designate an emergency meeting place outside your home
  • Practice emergency exit drills in the house (EDITH) regularly
  • Outdoor cooking appliances such as barbecues should never be taken indoors for use as heaters