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Wildfire Risk & Protection: Tips to Prepare Against Wildfires

As recent wildfires across Southern California have shown, nature's wrath can also be a good reminder to evaluate your own preparedness for disaster.

While some homes are more at risk than others, there are steps everyone can take to be prepared for wildfires.

Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends these tips for preparing your home and property against a wildfire.

Smart Landscaping

Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire down and possibly direct it around your home. To create survivable space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily treed area or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside:

  • Introduce more native vegetation.
  • Space trees at least 10 feet apart.
  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.
  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned.
  • Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
  • Maintain your irrigation system.
  • Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
  • Trim branches so they do not extend over roof or near the chimney.
  • Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from home and clear areas at least 10 feet around them.
  • Store flammable liquids properly.
  • Do not connect wooden fencing directly to your home.

Build or retrofit your home with non-flammable materials

  • Use only non-combustible roofing materials.
  • Cover exterior walls with fire resistant materials like stucco, stone, or brick. (Vinyl siding can melt and is not recommended).
  • Use double paned or tempered glass for all exterior windows.
  • Install noncombustible street signs and ensure they are visible from the street so fire department officials can find you.

When a wildfire threatens

  • Become familiar with your community's disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan. Identify escape routes and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated.
  • Put together an emergency kit. IBHS offers a detailed list of items.

Review insurance coverage

Review your homeowners insurance policy periodically with a USAA representative to make sure you have sufficient coverage to rebuild your home after a wildfire or other catastrophe. Report any property damage to USAA immediately after a natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

Taking these steps will give your home the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire.

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USAA, a diversified financial services organization, is the leading provider of competitively priced financial planning, insurance, investments, and banking products to members of the U.S. military and their eligible families. Rated among the highest among financial services companies for customer advocacy in a Forrester Research survey, USAA provides convenient and accessible financial products to its more than 9 million members. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit

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