Just like home-security systems and motion-detectors protect your home and family, creating 100 feet of defensible space around your property serves as another way for you to keep what you own and those you love safe.
Let PG&E's Safety Action Center be your guide. September is National Preparedness Month, and the Safety Action Center (safetyactioncenter.pge.com) is PG&E’s online preparedness resource, which provides information to help customers keep their families, homes and businesses safe during natural disasters and other emergencies.
PG&E Senior Public Safety Specialist David Hawks, a former chief of the Cal Fire Butte Unit, who shares and shows how some simple yard work really adds a lot of protection.
“The best part is that all of this can be done in just a couple hours on a Saturday,” Hawks says. “It’s not only important to keep your home more fire-resistant, it also is important to help firefighters safely defend your home.”
How to keep your property lean, green and clean
- Keep plants well-irrigated
- Remove dead grass
- Never use a lawnmower on dry grass on hot, windy days. Use a weed-eater or a string-trimmer instead.
- Do your yard work early in the morning, preferably before 10 a.m. And don’t do yard work if the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning.
How to maintain clearance between plants
“Just like people, bushes need spacing. Too many bushes in close proximity allow fire to spread from bush to bush and increase fire intensity,” Hawks says.
- Thin bushes out or remove some altogether.
- Space bushes twice the height of a bush, so a three-foot bush should be six feet away from nearby bushes.
- Avoid ladder fuels, which allows fire to move from ground to bush to trees to the crowns
How to create 100 feet of defensible space
- Small trees should be limbed up at least six feet from the ground
- Larger trees with vegetation below should be limbed up three times the height of the vegetation, so if you have a two-foot-tall bush under tree, you should remove limbs up to six feet
- Give full-grown trees space. Space crowns 10 feet apart once trees reach maturity. If your property has a mild to moderate slope, increase spacing to 20 feet. And if your property has a severe slope of more than 40%, tree crowns should be spaced 30 feet apart.
More resources are available
- Cal Fire. Defensible space is the buffer between your structure and the surrounding area, the state’s firefighting agency says. Adequate defensible space acts as a barrier to slow or halt the progress of fire that would otherwise engulf your property. Defensible space is the first line of defense for your home against wildfire. Cal Fire offers additional tips on its Ready for Wildfire website.
- U.S Forest Service. The Forest Service partners with the National Fire Protection Association and its Firewise Communities, a program that teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and act now to prevent losses. The association notes that nearly 45 million homes are in the wildland/urban interface.
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