Too hot to handle
Do you ever notice our editorials have a somewhat inconsistent tone from week to week? The editorials are the voice of the paper, not the individuals who write them, which is why they are unsigned. At times, someone’s all heated up about government malfeasance or stupidity, other times, someone sees an injustice in the media or the world at large. Other times, there’s just information that needs to be imparted to help people be good citizens—like, school’s started, slow down in school zones; it’s construction season, watch out for flaggers; it’s the holiday season, shop at locally-owned stores.
Anyway, this is one of the latter. It’s summer, and it was a dry winter. Protect your home against wildfires. People who protect their own homes may, in fact, help break fires, and help shield their neighbors’ homes from burning. This editorial relies heavily on the information imparted by various government agencies, including the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, on the Web site Living With Fire, www.livingwithfire.info.
The key to keeping your home from burning relies on six steps to creating a less-flammable area near the home. The Cooperative Extension calls this an “effective defensible space.”
Step 1: Determine the size of an effective defensible space.
The easiest way to do this is to use the Cooperative Extension’s “Defensible Space Zone Calculator” which can be found on the Web site. This is the area around the exterior of your home that you design to make it less likely to burn in a fire.
Step 2: Remove dead vegetation. Take away dead and dying trees and branches and discard shrubs, leaves, grass, weeds, flowers, needles, and twigs within 30 feet of the house. They may still be attached to plants, draped on live plants, or lying on the ground.
Step 3: Create a separation between shrubs and trees. Plants that are too close together allow flames to leap from plant to plant, tree to tree.
Step 4: Create a separation between tree branches and lower growing plants. According to the Web site, the recommended separation for ladder fuels is three times the height of the lower vegetation layer. For example, if the lower vegetation layer is 2 feet tall, then there should be a six-feet separation. Prune the lower tree branches, shorten the height of shrubs, or remove lower plants.
Step 5: Create a lean, clean and green area extending for at least 30 feet from the house. People get degrees to figure out the permutations of what makes a good defensible area. Basically, you want to remove easily burnable items, like dead bushes, from near the house. Second, you want an area that makes a less-dense fire that won’t generate enough heat to start the house ablaze.
Step 6: Maintain the defensible space zone. Every year, and sometimes, several times a year, new fuel or crowding plants must be removed to keep your home safe.
That’s about it. We hope you have a safe, happy and incombustible summer.