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Harden your home to reduce wildfire threats

Preparing (hardening) your home for wildfire involves understanding the risks and taking proactive steps. Your home can be threatened by:

  • Direct flames: Typically coming from a wildfire or a neighboring house
  • Radiant heat: Typically coming from nearby burning objects
  • Flying embers: Embers can be particularly destructive – capable of igniting homes up to a mile away.

Increase your home’s chances of survival when wildfire strikes by following our home hardening guidelines below.

Ways you can retrofit your home to increase wildfire-resistance:

Explore affordable retrofitting options to enhance your home’s defense against wildfires in California.

Take our Wildfire Survey to get a custom checklist.

Home hardening strategies to improve wildfire resi

To increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire, consider the following home hardening strategies for every area of your property:

  • Material choice: The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Opt for composite, metal, clay, or tile roofing to resist fires.
  • Ember sealing: Close off gaps under roof tiles and shingles to block wind-blown embers.
  • Debris removal: Regularly clear leaves, pine needles, and other debris from the roof to prevent ignition.

  • Mesh screening: Install 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh over vents to block embers. Avoid fiberglass or plastic meshes, which can melt.
  • Advanced venting: Consider installing ember- and flame-resistant vents, known as WUI vents, for enhanced protection.

Construction: Box in eaves using ignition-resistant or noncombustible materials to prevent ember entry.

  • Dual-pane installation: Fit dual-paned windows with at least one tempered glass layer to withstand fire-induced breakage.
  • Size consideration: Limit the size and number of windows facing large vegetation areas to reduce radiant heat exposure.
  • Screen addition: Add screens to all operable windows to catch embers and reduce heat.

  • Material selection: Avoid flammable siding. Preferred materials include stucco, fiber cement, or specially treated wood.
  • Full coverage: Ensure the selected materials extend from the foundation to the roofline for comprehensive protection.

  • Fire-resistant materials: Construct decks from ignition-resistant building materials* like composite.
  • Under-deck clearing: Maintain an ember-resistant zone beneath decks by removing all flammable materials.
  • Slope consideration: For decks extending over slopes, establish a defensible space below to deter flame ascent.

  • Regular cleaning: Keep gutters free from plant debris to prevent ember ignition.
  • Drip edge installation: Add a noncombustible metal drip edge to protect the roof’s edge from ember exposure.
  • Gutter guards: Use noncombustible gutter covers to keep out debris and reduce maintenance.

Matching materials: Use the same ignition-resistant materials on patio covers as those on your roof.

  • Chimney screening: Cover your chimney and stove pipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.
  • Keep closed seasonally: Close the fireplace flue during wildfire season when the chimney is not being used.

  • Emergency tools: Store a fire extinguisher and basic firefighting tools within easy reach.
  • Power backup: Equip garage doors with battery backups to ensure functionality during power outages.
  • Ember seals: Apply weather stripping around and under the garage door to block ember entry.

Material transition: Use noncombustible materials for the portion of the fence that connects to the house to prevent fire spread.

  • Clearance maintenance: Keep a minimum of 10 feet of vegetation clearance on either side of driveways and access roads.
  • Emergency access: Ensure gates open inward and are wide enough for emergency vehicles, and keep overhead branches trimmed.

Clear marking: Your home’s address should be easily visible from the street for quick identification by emergency responders.

  • Hose availability: Install long garden hoses at your property that can reach all areas, including roofs and decks.
  • Supplementary water sources: Consider installing pumps for pools or wells to increase water availability during fires.

*Note: “Ignition-resistant materials” are specially treated to resist ignition and slow burning when exposed to flames or embers, including noncombustible options and products approved by the State Fire Marshal.