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Sat, Dec. 07

Red Cross offers wildfire safety tips

Protect your home:

Regularly clean roof and gutters

Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrestor that meets the requirements of national Fire Protection Code 211 (contact your local fore dept. for exact specifications).

Use half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floors area and the home itself. Also screen openings to floors, roof and attic.

Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.

Before wildfire threatens:

Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials on the roof or exterior structure of the dwelling. Or, treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.

Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.

Create a 30-100 safety zone around your home. Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat.

Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear at least a 30-foot zone of debris and all flammable vegetation from around your home and dispose of it properly.

Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.

Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.

Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.

Ask the power company to clear tree branches from the power lines.

Remove vines from the wall of the home.

Mow grass regularly.

Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill, using non-flammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.

Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only UL-approved wood-burning devices.

Plan your water needs:

Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.

Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.

When wildfire threatens:

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials.

Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.

Back your car into the garage. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.

Disconnect any automatic garage door openers.

Arrange temporary housing at a friend's or relative's area outside the threatened area.

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