While it seems almost impossible, there are ways that homeowners can protect themselves and their property against wildfires. Educate yourself about the dangers of wildfires in your area as well as emergency procedures established by fire departments and forestry services.

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1. Make an emergency evacuation plan with your family.

Wildfires can develop quickly, and a plan to get to safety is essential. Educate yourself on established evacuation routes and shelters in the area. It is important to have more than one way out in case a fire blocks your primary route.

2. Assemble an emergency kit.

This kit should include essential items you will need in the event you are cut off not only from your home, but from outside help as well. These items include water, a hand-crank radio, flashlights, extra batteries, dust masks, a signal whistle, an emergency cell phone charger and a first-aid kit.

3. Maintain the vegetation around your home.

Be conscious of what you plant and how close you place it to your house. Hardwood trees such as oak are slower to burn than trees like pine. Trim your trees and make sure all loose limbs and branches are regularly picked up.

4. Keep all gutters and roofs cleared

Keep clear of dead leaves and branches. These are a dangerous fuel source.

5. Choose fire-resistant materials

When building or modifying your home, Non-combustible material used on roofs especially can work to protect your home.

6. Use 0.125-inch screens to seal off areas under the house and porches.

Do the same for the attic and any open space. This can prevent drifting embers from getting into small flammable spaces.

7. Keep a UL-LISTED, ABC-style fire extinguisher.

Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to use it. One of the best on the market is the Kidde Full Home Fire Extinguisher (kidde.com).

8. Make a fire-fighting kit that includes simple fire tools

Use fire tools such as a shovel, axe, saw, bucket and rake. If a fire is still off at a safe distance, these tools can be used to help contain and stop small fires caused by embers.

9. Install heavy fire-retardant drapes on all the windows.

The more you can keep the fire away from easy fuel, the better the chances your structure will survive the fire.

10. Keep a garden hose on at least two sides of your house.

Make sure they are long enough to reach the outer portions of the property.

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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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