The Do’s & Don’ts of Defensible Space

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MEDFORD, OR. — With an active fire season likely this year, it’s important we do what we can now to protect our homes and property. Creating defensible space around your home is an easy and effective way to reduce your risk from embers that may escape wildfires this upcoming summer.

Simple yard work can go a long way and could prevent the loss of your property. Start off by removing dead vegetation underneath decks or patios around your home. Officials suggest screening or boxing in the areas underneath decks and patios with metal wire mesh.

Covering exterior attic vents with wire mesh is strongly encouraged as well. These areas are considered “vulnerable openings” and screening them can prevent embers from entering & igniting. Metal wire mesh that does not rust is recommended. It should also be no larger than 1/8 of an inch.

You’ll also want to remove dead vegetation within 10’ of your home and trim tree branches hanging near or over your roof. Tree limbs should be at least 10’ above the roof line and 10’ from the side of your home. Clear leaves and other debris from gutters and eaves. This can prevent embers from igniting.

Keep shrubs around the perimeter of your home trimmed down below the window. If the plant were to catch on fire, the heat could crack the glass. It’s almost important to check the inside of shrubs, to be sure it is not dry and dead. The same thing goes for large pine trees.

If you plan to add any plants to your landscape, try to use fire-resistant plants as opposed to highly flammable plants. Also, keep in mind that fire-resistant does not mean fire proof.

Flammable materials will need to be removed within 30 feet of your home’s foundation & outbuildings. This includes stacks of firewood & propane tanks.

Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained, if it is brown …cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfires. Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings hang around your yard, dispose of them in a timely manner.

Big trees can be a double edge sword. If you have big trees in your yard, leave them to provide shade & to prevent other plants from growing much. But, you will need to trim them up. Limb up tree branches 6’-8’ off the ground for big trees and 1/3 the height of smaller trees. Because wildfires can spread to tree tops, be sure that adjacent trees are not touching one another.

While your gaze is up in your trees, take a peek at the top of your home as well. Inspect shingles or roof tiles & replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent an ember from getting trapped.

Routine car maintenance is important into the summer months as well. Last summer, a number of fires started from vehicles near dry grass. You can find more firewise tips here.