Tips to protect your home from wildfires

June 2, 2011 3:17:04 PM PDT
As summer swings into Houston, the combination of high temperatures and severe drought in our area could make for more wildfires, and authorities have released a list of steps residents can take to prevent their homes from a blaze.

Most of the Houston area is now at or approaching "extreme" levels of drought and fire danger on the Keetch Byram Drought Index, according to a statement from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office statement.

"These levels are unprecedented for this early in the year, and will continue to rise until the area experiences major rainfall," according to the statement. "The area has not seen a soaking rainfall of 2" or more since October of 2010, leaving our wooded areas susceptible to a catastrophic fire."

Authorities say the drought conditions may spread the fires more quickly and make them harder to control, so they've offered the list below to help prevent flames from reaching residents' homes:

    1. LPG tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area around the tank clear of flammable vegetation.
    2. Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
    3. All combustibles such as firewood, wooden picnic tables, boats and stacked lumber should be kept away from structures.
    4. Clear roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid build-up of flammable materials such as leaves and other debris.
    5. Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet or more.
    6. In rural areas, clear a fuel break of at least three times the fuel length around all structures.
    7. Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach your roof, shovel, rake and a bucket or two for water.
    8. Place connected garden hoses at all sides of your home for emergency use.
    9. Assure that you and your family know all emergency exits from your home.
    10. Assure that you and your family know all emergency exits from your neighborhood.

Law enforcement also says residents need to comply with burn bans if they're in effect in their community or risk getting fined $500.

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