California fire season can now happen any time – without warning – and it’s important for Californians to be prepared.
Prepare the Outside of Your Home
Move Flammables 30+ Feet Away from the Home
Move any flammable objects at least 30 feet away from your home to reduce the risk of your house catching on fire. This may include oil and gas cans, wood piles, propane tanks, and lawnmowers. When there’s wildfire activity, move flammable toys and furniture away from your home as well.
Clean Out All Gutters
Leaves, pine needs, and other organic debris are flammable. Make sure to clean your decks, roofs, gutters, and patios to reduce the risk of fire if there’s a sudden wildfire hazard.
Keep Flammable Vegetation 5+ Feet Away from the Home
Flammable vegetation like some ornamental grasses and herbs should be planted at least 5 feet from your home. You can replace them with fire-resistant plants that give you privacy without increasing your fire risk.
Trim Your Trees and Shrubs
Trim trees and shrubs that have branches overhanging within 10 feet of your home or chimney. Keep these plants maintained throughout the year to avoid a last-minute rush in a wildfire situation.
Keep Grass Short
Your lawn should be kept short and watered at all times. If you’re conserving water, make sure to move flammable debris off your lawn and 30 feet or more away from your home.
Prepare the Inside of Your Home
Keep the Fireplace Flue Closed
When you have a fire in your fireplace, the flue allows the smoke and carbon monoxide to escape. In a wildfire, it’s important to close the flue to prevent smoke pollution from getting into your home.
Be Wary of Your Indoor Air Quality
Don’t burn candles, light incense, smoke cigarettes or cigars, or do anything else that can impact your indoor air quality during a wildfire. Try to keep your home’s air clean.
Seal and Weatherstrip Your Windows
Damaged seals or weatherstrips on windows allow your indoor air to escape and the outdoor air to enter. Make sure your windows are properly sealed and protected all year in case of wildfires.
Invest in an Air Purifier
A portable air purifier or high-efficiency HVAC system filter can help you prepare for wildfires by keeping your indoor air as clean as possible.
Regularly Check and Change Your Air Filter
Make sure to check and change your air filter regularly, especially if you’ve had a lot of smoke pollution in the area. Regular maintenance of your HVAC system is important for keeping your home clean and safe during a wildfire.
Consider an Air Filter with a High MERV Rating
Upgrade to a MERV 13 or higher air filter to prevent the particle pollution that often occurs with wildfires.
Make Sure Your HVAC System Is Set to “Recirculate” or Close the Fresh Air Intake
If your central HVAC system has a fresh air intake, close it during wildfire activity. You can also put the system in recirculate mode to maintain your indoor air quality.
Stock Up on N95 Masks
Stock up on N95 masks in preparation for wildfires. You can find them in hardware stores or drugstores, so make sure you have enough for your family and some spares just in case.
Make a Family Plan
Sign Up for Local Emergency Alerts
During wildfires, several authorities will be releasing air quality reports, health warnings, and public safety announcements to keep you aware of the developments with wildfires. Sign up for local alerts and make sure you know all the different ways you can get information during a crisis.
Establish a “Safe Place”
Your clean room or safe place is a room in your home that has few windows and doors, no fireplace, and reduced exposure to outdoor air. Keep emergency provisions and a portable air cleaner in the room in case of an emergency.
Make a “Go Bag”
Sometimes, you will have to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Keep all your important documents, medications, and a change of clothing in a “go bag” that you can grab for a quick evacuation.
Don’t Forget Any Pets
Your evacuation plan should include detailed information about how you’ll respond to an emergency like an encroaching wildfire. Make sure to include your pets in this plan and how you’ll transport them during an evacuation, so you don’t have to leave them behind in a hurry.
How Long Does California Fire Season Last?
Wildfire season used to last during the summer in California, but a wildfire can now happen at any time of year. California residents need to have a plan in place for a sudden wildfire, whether it’s in the dead of winter or the height of summer.
Concerned about wildfires? Contact ASI Heating and Air to see what you can do to prepare your home and system for wildfire and smoke pollution!