A hillside of CA houses with mountains in the background

How to Fireproof Your Home from Wildfires

You can do this. We can all do this. All of us can live safely in California—just like thousands are doing right now. The key is prioritizing your time when it comes to hardening your home and creating fuel breaks by maintaining your landscape from wildfires. Everyone living in California needs to take action now as fires grow in intensity and severity.

First Priority: Fire-Shielding Home

Your home keeps family safe and holds priceless memories. It should be built and maintained to endure an onslaught of firebrands—those flying embers driven well ahead of a fire. Maintaining a fire-shielded home is the top priority. Your work here protects everything you have earned and created.

Here's what to do:

Nice house with roses in front yard

Roofs & Gutters.

Only the most fire retardant roofs will safeguard your home in California. Leaf guards are beneficial, as debris-filled gutters play a large role in starting fires resulting in home loss.

Front door of house with siding

Siding.

Whether non-flammable materials or wood, everything must be maintained so that there are no gaps, split boards, or peeling paint.

Person installing house windows

Windows.

Replace single-paned windows for fire protection and as a bonus, energy savings, too.

The First 5 Feet Closest to Home

If anything ignites within the first 5 feet, your home will be injured, if not destroyed. The goal is to keep this space safe by removing anything flammable. While this area does not take a great amount of time, it does require awareness and regular cleaning.

Here's what to do:

Firewood in bucket inside house

No storage.

Do not store flammable items, such as firewood, recyclables and tools.

Person raking leaves in yard

No kindling.

Remove dead, dying and diseased vegetation.

Overhead of grass rocks and gravel in landscape

No mulch.

Do not use organic mulches.

The 30 Feet Surround Your Home

This is the busiest part of your garden. Fire protection, recreation, pet care, storage, and privacy are some of its jobs. The goal is to maintain a landscape that endures firebrands and intense heat. Second only to your home, this area requires a large amount of time and energy. But luckily, you will get your investment back – increased property value and better health grow in this area.

Here's what to do:

Woman raking fall foilage in yard

No kindling.

Remove the dead, dying, and diseased vegetation.

Man sweeping cleaning sidewalk

Emergency exits.

Clear flammable vegetation from around evacuation routes and important paths.

Overhead house landscape pool

Create islands.

Separate your large trees and shrubs and create clearance around bee and bird habitat.

Mercury Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, a leading group of scientists focused on protecting people and properties from natural disasters, have teamed up to give homeowners a progressive guide through key components of their home that can affect wildfire resistance, critical actions to take first and ways to build resilience.

The guide contains a cluster of mitigation steps with three to four projects for homeowners to tackle and is based in years of scientific research to understand wildfires and home vulnerabilities.

Download and use this guide. Share it with friends, family and neighbors. Together, we can reduce our risk from wildfire!
Douglas Kent MS, MLA

Douglas Kent MS, MLA

Mr. Kent has been working to create fire protected properties in California since 1994. He wrote Firescaping (Wilderness Press), which is the best selling book on landscaping for fire protection in the U.S. Mr. Kent has also taught at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, since 2008.