Homeowners can reduce wildfire risks while sheltering in place

CONEJOS COUNTY —The corona virus pandemic is forcing agencies and organizations to re-strategize how to respond and deal with wildfires. Now is the time for individual homeowners, neighborhood associations, and local organizations to take preventative steps to protect their homes from wildfires.

For example, homeowners living in wildfire-prone areas can carry out simple mitigation measures to make homes more wildfire-resistant and reduce wildfire risks:

• safely store combustible material like firewood away from the home;• trim trees and prune low-hanging branches;

• mow and reduce vegetation within 100 feet of any structure;

• replace bark mulch with rock mulch within five feet of the home;

• remove leaves, dead vegetation, and debris from gutters and roofs;

• develop an action plan for quick evacuation and agree on pre-determined meeting locations with family;

• assess the home for opportunities to harden eaves, vents, decks, roofs, and siding with ignition-resistant building materials.

The new Wildfire Risk to Communities website offers a wealth of resources for local leaders, community planners, and fire managers. The website features interactive maps and data about community wildfire risk and provides detailed information about wildfire risk to homes and vulnerable populations in any selected community. Proven methods to reduce risk are also offered.

At a time when it seems that much is out of our control, it is reassuring to know that performing relatively simple mitigation measures can reduce wildfire risks to our homes and communities. Not only will these actions benefit ourselves—they will also benefit our neighbors, first responders, and the healthcare system and help to reduce the potential for the double crisis of wildfires during a pandemic.



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