What can you do to make your home as safe as possible against a potential wildfire?
Home owners have learnt valuable lessons from the 2017 Knysna fires. And these lessons are now guiding fire management in South Africa. As a home owner (and a landowner), here are the steps you should take – as advised in the book: ‘Situational Analysis of the 2017 Knysna Fires’, by Vulcan Wildfire Management.
Home owners are encouraged to use all possible opportunities to reduce risks to wildfires. As a homeowner, you can’t just rely on fire services. Be prepared. And take pre-emptive action.
Your first step is to assess your home in relation to potential threats (are you on a hill with vegetation below you, or in a valley?).
Then, create a defendable space around the home.
- Take note of the vegetation surrounding your home.
- With this info, clear fuels around your home and thin out fuels in surrounding areas.
- Keep grass and fine vegetation around the home trimmed.
- Ensure leaves and dead vegetation are removed.
- Clear beneath decks and balconies and avoid build-up of fuels against walls.
- Keep gutters clear of leaf litter.
- Check your roof and seal any gaps such as air vents that could let embers in.
- Store flammable material like wood piles away from your home.
- Make sure gas bottles are stored safely and not exposed to possible heat sources.
- You must have available water sources at your house.
- Install defense measures, like sprinklers or drencher systems around your home, assets and infrastructure.
If a wildfire is burning in your area, here are some steps to take:
- Block your downpipes and fill your gutters with water.
- Remove other flammable material, like furniture, from around your home.
- Keep all doors and windows shut.
Also – have an evacuation plan in place. It’s difficult to think about, but essential to have planned.
During the winter season:
- Firebreaks and prescribed burning are essential in a holistic fire-management strategy.
- Landowners should ideally develop their own strategic plans for wildfires, which should be assessed annually.
- And develop a mutual-aid agreement with your neighbour.
If you have any questions on ensuring your property is safe, chat to the goFPA team. Contact Louise Wessels: firstname.lastname@example.org