The following statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are for fires in the USA in 2009:
In general, fires cause more loss of life and property in America than all natural disasters combined! Every year, fires are responsible for more loss of life, limb, and property in the USA than either Hurricane Katrina or the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11! Statistically speaking, the easiest and most cost-effective way to reduce the chances that you, your home, or your family might suffer great loss in a future event, is to improve the fire safety of your home, and the fire awareness of your loved ones.
With the record-breaking heat, drought, and fire storms of the summer of 2012, followed by a horrendous start to the 2013 fire season, most of us want to do what we can to improve the chances that our home will survive a local wildfire. Creating a "defensible space" is one of the first set of tasks that a rural homeowner or renter should do.
Creating a Defensible Space
My buddy Jim Bolton, an experienced Reno fireman, tells me that when they enter a neighborhood, they take mental notes about which homes have maintained a defensible space and which have not. They don't waste their time focusing on homes without a defensible space, but spend their time defending homes where they stand a decent chance of success, while keeping a watchful eye on nearby flames. These are brave guys, risking their necks where most of us would not go, but they have wives and kids so when a vicious fire storm gets dangerously close, they simply have to leave the neighborhood and let nature take its course.
Additionally, in rural areas it may be a smart idea to purchase a high-volume gasoline-powered home fire-fighting pump. Gel systems have the capability to get the most out of limited water supplies, and the sticky gel is a fire resistant gooey coating that provides much longer lasting protection than a simple water spray, when applied to walls, decking, and roofing.
NOTE: This post is adapted from When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival by Matthew Stein
Matthew Stein is the author of When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival, and When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency from Chelsea Green. For more information, visit chelseagreen.com and whentechfails.com and matstein.com.
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