Experts predict Colorado’s high temperatures and dry weather will persist into the summer. The U.S. Drought monitor shows 4.2 million people in Colorado are affected by drought. With drought comes more frequent and larger wildfires and an extended wildfire season. A recent survey by COUNTRY Financial found two in five Americans are worried it’s just a matter of time before they experience weather-related damage to their home or property. COUNTRY Financial shares these tips to protect your property against wildfires:
1. Create a buffer around your home
Create and maintain a defensible space around your home. This space can help impede the spread of an approaching wildfire fire and protect your home from catching on fire. Remove dry shrubs and debris within at least five feet of your home. Limit vegetation in this area to low growing or fire-resistant plants. Consider placing about five feet of noncombustible materials such as gravel, brick, or concrete adjacent to your home’s foundation. Additionally, remove any shrubs planted under your trees and prune all branches that hang near your roof. Highly flammable objects such as firewood or propane tanks should be regularly stored a minimum of 30 feet away from your home.
2. Reduce your siding risks
Embers are a major risk during a wildfire. They can fly through the air, hit your home, fall to the ground and ignite the siding. In high winds, they can reach your home from a fire many miles away. Much of the destruction in the Marshall Fire was caused by flying embers. Ensure you have a 6-inch ground-to-siding clearance around your home to reduce the fire risk. This clearance cannot only protect your siding from fire damage, but insect and moisture damage too. If your siding is too close to the ground, remove dirt to create the minimum clearance. Consider noncombustible siding such as concrete or brick when it’s time to replace or upgrade your siding.
3. Clean gutters and cover vents
Remove all debris such as dried leaves or pine needles from your roof and gutters. Flying embers can quickly ignite the debris and cause the roof to catch on fire. Embers can also enter your home through attic and crawl space vents and ignite combustible material. Cover outer vents with a 1/8” mesh screen to prevent windblown embers from entering your vent system.
4. Inspect and trim trees
Trim trees on a regular basis to remove dead branches. ReadyForWildfire.org recommends keeping branches 10 feet away from your home and from other trees. A weak, dry branch can easily catch fire, fall, and ignite materials and structures nearby.
5. Use a Class-A roof covering
Wood roofs are a major fire concern and new installs are even banned in some Colorado places. Fire resistant roofing materials such as asphalt shingles are categorized as Class-A fire and offer the best protection for homes against fire. Other Class-A fire rated roofing materials include clay tiles, slate, and concrete tiles. Your insurance company may offer discounts on your policy depending on the age and type of your roof. A new, high-quality roof could equate to significant premium savings. Check with your insurance agent for details.
Making proper preparations such as these today can provide some protection when a wildfire looms. In the unfortunate event your home or property is affected by a wildfire, your insurance is there to protect you. If you have questions about the details of your policy, contact your insurance agent to review your policy together. You can also reach out to one of COUNTRY Financial’s Colorado agencies in Fort Collins (970) 221-9655, North Denver (303) 940-6864 or South Denver (303) 368-5202, with questions