Cover attic, eave and foundation vents with 1/8-inch wire mesh or install new vent types designed to prevent ember entry. If wildfire is threatening, consider covering vent openings with pre-cut plywood or aluminum foil folded several layers thick and stapled.
Fill gaps in siding and trim materials with a good quality caulk and replace poor condition building materials.
Cover open eaves with sheathing, such as plywood or fiber-cement board. Use tongue and groove joints or other intricate joint types and don’t use butt joints.
Replace single-pane, non-tempered glass windows with multiple-pane, tempered-glass types. Close all windows if wildfire is threatening.
Install an approved spark arrester on chimneys.
Plug openings in roof coverings, such as the open ends of barrel tiles, with non-combustible materials.
Replace wood shake and shingle roofs with fire-resistant types such as composition, metal and tile.
Store firewood at least 30 feet from the house or cover with an ember-resistant firewood cover.
Remove plant debris from the gaps between deck boards, the gap between the deck and house, and lying on top of the deck.
Maintain wooden fences in good condition and create a noncombustible fence section or gate next to the house for at least five feet.
Under the Deck
Remove plant debris, wood piles and other easily ignited materials from under decks. Consider enclosing the open sides of the deck with siding materials that are properly vented or 1/8-inch wire mesh to reduce maintenance and deter ember entry. Do not use wooden lattice to enclose decks.
Keep rain gutters free of plant debris during fire season. Consider using rain gutter covers to reduce maintenance.
Replace deck boards that are less than one inch thick or that are in poor condition with thicker, good condition boards. Use metal flashing
Replace wood mulches with noncombustible types and remove plant debris, including dried grass and flowers, dead leaves and dead branches from flowerbeds next to the house, other buildings and next to wooden fences. Replace ornamental junipers with low-growing deciduous shrubs or flowers under irrigation.
Make My House Fire Safe
Appropriate home construction and maintenance resists ignition from embers.
Wildfire Home Retrofit GuideBe Ember Aware!Be Ember Prepared! (video)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Nevada Version)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Carson City Version)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Elko County Version)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Storey County Version)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Upper Colony, Smith Valley)Fire Adapted Communities - The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness (Washoe County Version)The Wood Shake and Shingle Roof Hazard
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Wildland Fuel Reduction Area
Beyond your residential landscape, remove dead vegetation, create separation between shrubs and trees, and remove low tree branches and shrubs under trees.
Lean, Clean, and Green Area
Keep the residential landscape area located within the first 30 feet from the home lean, clean and green. Have only a small amount of flammable vegetation, with no accumulation of dead vegetation. Use plants that are healthy, green and irrigated during the hot, dry summer.
The first 5 feet around the base of your home should be kept free of all combustible materials, including wood mulches, dead or dry vegetation and other debris. Use irrigated herbaceous plants, rock mulches or hard surfaces.
Improve My Defensible Space
Proper management of the vegetation surrounding the home reduces the threat of wildfire.
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Long driveways should have a turnaround area suitable for a 3-point turn or a cul-de-sac with at least a 45-foot radius.
Road Width and Grade
Fire adapted communities have 20-foot wide roads, and 12-foot wide driveways with a 12 percent or less steepness grade.
Install address signs that use contrasting noncombustible material with characters at least 6 inches high.
Remove flammable vegetation for 10 feet from both sides of the driveway, and overhead to provide at least a 13 ½-foot vertical clearance.
When possible, create turnouts on long driveways to allow 2-way traffic.
Fire adapted communities have street signs posted at each intersection and are made of reflective, noncombustible material.
Bridges and Culverts
Post load limits on bridges and culverts leading to your home.
Fire adapted communities have a second access road to improve traffic flow during an emergency.
Electronically operated driveway gates require key access for local fire departments and districts.
Easy Access to My Neighborhood & Home
Good access helps emergency responders arrive in a timely manner and facilitates safe evacuation.
My Evacuation Plan
Members of prepared communities can evacuate safely and effectively.
Step 1: Sign Up for Emergency Notifications
Local Emergency Notification Systems, commonly known as Reverse Dial, are used by safety officials to send phone calls, emails and texts to a specific area with a prepared message during an emergency. For example, if an area is asked to evacuate, this message will be sent to all of those residents who are in the system. Some residents might not receive these messages if the electricity fails, if the resident isn’t home during an emergency, does not have a land line, or if they have an unlisted phone number. Most systems allow residents to enter multiple forms of contact information, such as an unlisted home number, cell phone, work phone and email address into the database. The following are links on how to register in counties and areas that offer this service: ** Note** Not every county has Reverse Dial. If there is no Local Emergency please refer to your county’s emergency manager.
- Carson City County: https://www.carson.org/our-city/emergency-notification
- Churchill County: http://www.churchillcounty.org/List.aspx
- Clark County: https://sonevada.onthealert.com/Terms/Index/?ReturnUrl=/
- Douglas County: https://douglascounty.onthealert.com/Terms/Index/?ReturnUrl=%2f
- Elko County: https://www.elkocountynv.net/departments/emergency_management/sign_up_for_alerts.php(coming soon)
- Esmeralda County *No Reverse Dialing System available: http://www.accessesmeralda.com/county_offices/emergency_management.php
- Eureka *No Reverse Dialing System available: http://www.co.eureka.nv.us/ems/publicsafety.htm
- Humboldt County: https://www.hcnv.us/64/Emergency-Alert
- Lander County: http://www.landercountynv.org/index.php
- Lincoln County: https://lincolncountynv.org/departments/emergency-manager/
- Lyon County: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/7589ADE0401F
- Mineral County: http://www.mineralcountynv.us/departments/emergency_management11.php
- Nye County: http://www.nyecounty.net/alertcenter.aspx
- Pershing County: https://www.pershingcountynv.gov/alertsense/index.php
- Storey County: http://www.storeycounty.org/list.aspx?ListID=169
- Washoe County: https://www.washoecounty.us/em/RegionalAlerts.php
- White Pine County: http://www.whitepinecounty.net/64/Emergency-Alert
Step 2: Prepare my Home and Family for Evacuation
Residents of a fire adapted community are prepared to safely and effectively evacuate. To prepare in advance:
- Meet with household members. Explain dangers to children, and work as a team to prepare your family for emergencies.
- Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
- Post emergency phone numbers near phones.
- Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at your home.
- Select a safe meeting point, in case you are separated from family members.
- Choose an out-of-town contact because it is often easier to make a long-distance phone call than a local call from a disaster area. Everyone must know the contact’s phone number.
- Complete a family communications plan that includes contact information for family members, work and school.
- Teach children how to make long-distance phone calls.
- Complete an inventory of home contents and photograph/video the house and landscape. Place files in your to-go bag and store a second copy in a location outside of your community.
- Identify escape routes and safe places, and draw an escape plan highlighting two routes out of each room. Be sure everyone in your family knows them.
- Prepare EVACUATED sign. Select a site to post signs where they will be clearly visible from the street.
Step 3: Make a To-Go Bag and Disaster Supplies Kit
The to-go bag should be prepared now, before an emergency, be easily accessible and filled with at least a three day supply of items needed to help you quickly and safely evacuate your home. You may only have enough time to retrieve this bag. Essentials include:
- Clothing and personal toiletries.
- Inventory of home contents and photographs/videotape of the house and landscape.
- Contact your insurance agent for an inventory checklist.
- Flashlight, portable radio tuned to an emergency radio station and extra batteries.
- Change batteries annually.
- Extra set of car and house keys.
- Extra pair of eyeglasses.
- Contact information for family, friends and physicians.
If you anticipate an extended evacuation at an emergency shelter or your family is returning to a home without functioning electricity and water, these additional items for a disaster supplies kit will prove helpful:
- One gallon of water per person, per day stored in unbreakable containers and labeled with the storage date. Replace every six months.
- Supply of non-perishable packaged or canned foods with a hand-operated can opener.
- Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel.
- First aid kit, including a first aid book.
- At least one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- ABC-type fire extinguisher.
- Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
- Large plastic trash bags, tarps and rain ponchos.
- A large trash can.
- Bar soap, liquid detergent and household bleach.
- Rubber gloves and duct tape.
Step 4: Understand Special Needs of Vulnerable Populations
Prepare to address the special needs of vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with medical problems and people with certain disabilities.
- If the family member is dependent upon medications, equipment or has special dietary needs, plan to bring those items with you. Documentation about insurance and medical conditions should also accompany the person.
- Transportation available to the general public during an emergency evacuation may not be suitable for family members with special needs. Plan ahead for their transportation.
- Many special needs populations are easily upset and stressed by sudden and frightening changes. Your plans should ensure that a caregiver or trusted family member is able to stay with them at all times during an evacuation.
Step 5: Prepare for Pets
Prepare to address the needs of your pets if you have to evacuate.
- Make sure dogs and cats wear properly fitted collars with identification, vaccination, microchip and license tags.
- Your pet evacuation plan should include routes, transportation needs and host sites. Share this plan with trusted neighbors in your absence.
- Exchange veterinary information with neighbors and file a permission slip with the veterinarian authorizing emergency care for your animals if you cannot be located.
- Make sure all vehicles, trailers and pet carriers needed for evacuation are serviced and ready to be used.
- Assemble a pet to-go bag with a supply of food, non-spill food and water bowls, cat litter and box and a restraint (chain, leash or harness). Additional items to include are newspaper and paper towels, plastic bags, permanent marker, bleach/disinfectant solution and water buckets.
Step 6: Print Evacuation Checklist
Remember, there is nothing you own worth your life! Please evacuate immediately when asked by fire or law enforcement officials. If you are concerned, don’t wait to be asked to leave. Drive slowly, turn on your vehicle headlights and stay as far to the right side of the road as possible. Always register with official personnel when you arrive at a shelter. Print this Wildfire Evacuation Checklist and, if you have time, use it as a guide to evacuate quickly and safely.
A safe area is a designated location within a community where people can go to wait out the wildfire. Often safe areas are ball fields, golf courses, parks and parking lots.
Land managers implement fuel reduction projects around neighborhoods to reduce flammable wildland fuels and improve forest health. Tree stands are thinned, tree canopies are raised by removing lower branches, and the understory vegetation is reduced. These projects can slow an approaching fire, improve the success of fire retardant dropped from the air, and provide a safer area for firefighters to operate. They are particularly effective when integrated with the defensible space of adjacent homes.
Land Managers use prescribed fire to reduce flammable wildland fuels and improve forest health. A prescribed fire project is well planned, carefully orchestrated, and involves the disciplines of fire ecology, fire suppression, forestry and public safety.
Making My Community Safer
Well-designed fuelbreaks and safe areas protect the community.
What Do I Do After The Fire
The days, weeks, and months following a wildfire may be very difficult, depending upon your loss. The emotional trauma of a wildfire may be something you never forget. The tips, information and resources presented below will help you through the process.
Before You Enter the House
If you were evacuated, contact your insurance agent or company to let them know how you can be reached. Keep receipts for temporary living expenses, like motel room and meals. Do not return to your home until re-entry is permitted by law enforcement officials. Do not cross a barricade or hazard tape without permission. Things to do before entering the house:
- Be careful when going back into your neighborhood, as charred trees and power poles maybe unstable, fires may flare up without warning, and live power lines may be on the ground.
- Watch out for ash pits — holes created by burned trees filled with hot ash.
- Check to see if your gas and electric utilities are working properly. If you smell gas, shut off the gas supply at the main valve, leave immediately, and call the gas company. If the electricity is not working, check to see if the main breaker is "on". If it is and there is no power, call your power company.
- Your house and yard may be covered in ash and may still have live embers present. Wear protective clothing and a dust mask.
- Check for and extinguish any burning embers on the roof, in rain gutters, on the porch or elsewhere on your property.
Inside the House
Things to do once you enter the house:
- Check for embers and smoke in the attic and in the crawl space. Check every day for several days.
- Start a list of things that have been damaged. Damage can occur from fire, smoke, water and chemicals. Take photographs. Don’t throw away damaged belongings or make repairs until you've talked to your insurance company.
- Do not eat food, drink beverages, or take medicine exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Smoke can infiltrate cloth and other materials. Use one to two cups of white vinegar with each load of wash to help rid clothing of the “smoke smell.” Commercial cleaning may be necessary for your drapes, upholstery and carpet.
Things to do for landscape care:
- Fire damaged trees may survive, depending on their species, condition before the fire, and how badly they were scorched. Good indicators that a tree will survive are a green or white, moist cambium layer beneath the bark, or if most of the buds are still green, moist and flexible. Sometimes it is hard to tell if a tree will survive. In those cases, it may be worthwhile to wait until next spring.
- Sometimes the soil itself can begin to repel water to become "hydrophobic." If water won't soak into the ground, try loosening the soil with a rake. A thin layer of straw on top of the soil can help it absorb moisture.
- Irrigate stressed plants as soon as you can. Water the ground under trees for the full width of their drip line — the circumference of their canopy of branches — and a few feet farther. Keep watering until the soil is moist to a depth of 12-15 inches.
- Fire stressed trees are vulnerable to beetle attack. Look for pink to red colored pitch on the branches. Beetle infested trees should be cut down and removed.
- Soil erosion becomes a major concern after wildfire. Several techniques are available for controlling erosion, including reseeding, the use of a straw mulch, and felling damaged trees across a slope. Planting of conservation grasses like crested wheatgrass can also help control erosion.
Information and Resources
The following links to additional information and resources may help you after a fire has affected your home or community. Links on this page are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement of the content, products or services by the Living With Fire Program, Tahoe Resource Conservation District or University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. We hope you find them helpful.
- After The Burn – Assessing and Managing Your Forestland After A Wildfire
- What Grows Back After the Fire
- What to Plant After Tree Loss
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