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How To: Create A Wildfire Defensible Space

Apr 27 2017

If you live in the West, you are likely already aware of the threat that wildfires can pose to your home and surrounding property. Since natural disasters, like wildfires, are by nature unpredictable, many homeowners believe that there are not feasible ways to prevent wildfire damage. But this is not the case. Our insurance experts review the basics of creating wildfire defensible space, which can help to protect your home in the event of a wildfire.

What is Defensible Space?

Defensible space is the area surrounding your home where debris and vegetation have been cleared or treated in order to slow or stop the spread of a wildfire. A properly implemented defensible space limits the flammable plants and materials around a dwelling and can actually help to prevent your home from catching fire.

Tips for Creating Defensible Space



  • Keep Your Yard & Plants Well-Watered - A well-watered lawn can help halt the spread of a wildfire. During warmer months with low precipitation, make sure you are regularly watering your yard.

  • Use Fire-Resistant Shrubs & Plants in your Landscaping Plan - Fire-resistant landscaping is ideal for homeowners who live in dry climates or are looking for a more low-maintenance landscaping option.

  • Clear Away Old Brush & Debris - Fallen leaves and downed branches are easy fuel for wildfires.

  • Surround the Area Under Decks and Porches with Mesh Screen – This will prevent flammable brush and debris from building up under decks or in crawl spaces.

  • Remove Old Stumps & Diseased Trees - Dead and diseased plants can be extremely dry and are more likely to drop branches and leaves.

  • Make Sure Trees on Your Property Are Well-Spaced - Wildfires can spread from tree to tree through the canopy. A licensed local arborist can help you ensure that your trees are spaced in a way that prevents the spread of fire.

  • Store Firewood Away From Home - In a wildfire situation, firewood can quickly become fuel for the fire. Make sure to store your firewood a minimum distance of 30 feet away from your dwelling, and if possible, store the firewood in a vegetation-free zone, like a paved or graveled area.

  • Install Small Screens Around Stove Pipes and Chimneys - Where there is a wildfire, there are often flying embers and sparks. Placing metal mesh screens around stove pipes, chimneys, and eaves will help prevent flying embers from entering your home.

  • Clear Debris from Roof & Gutters - During a wildfire, flying embers and sparks can ignite pine needles and dead leaves on your roof and quickly set your entire home ablaze. At least once a year, remove all debris from your roof and gutters.

  • Install an Interior Sprinkler System – If a wildfire does enter your home, a sprinkler system can help to keep the blaze at bay.

  • Create a Disaster Supply Kit – If you are asked to evacuate, having a well-stocked disaster supply kit ready to go will allow you and your family to leave your home quickly and confidently.

  • Review your Homeowners Insurance Policy – Wildfire damage is covered under most homeowners insurance But it is important to check with your local independent agent to ensure you understand your coverage as it relates to wildfires.

By their nature, wildfires are unpredictable. But with some careful planning and preparation, a well-crafted defensible space can help to keep you, your family, and your home safer.

Want more information? Read this guide of wildfire preparation tips from NW Insurance Council or reach out to a local independent agent who can help you determine the best ways to make sure your home is protected. For more resources on creating and maintaining an effective defensible space, check out these helpful guides from Firewise Communities and the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection.

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