Losing a home to a fire is something no one likes to think about. But in fire-prone areas across California, it's a grim possibility.
Following are five ways to keep you, your family and your property safe, as told by Captain Erik Scott, public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Inside the home
Have a functional smoke alarm
It's like having a soldier on duty 24/7 monitoring your home for that fire to erupt and to give you the early detection to get out and stay out.
Cleaning out dryer vents
You've got something that's gas powered or electric that gets very hot and you have a small amount of lint that will collect in that area, and it's easy to ignite. It's not uncommon for local firefighters to go to people's residences and have a fire that starts in the laundry room or garage that could have been prevented by having proper maintenance.
Outside the home
If [your home is in] an area that's prone to wildfires, that defensible space is paramount to our success. Then we will have firefighters that will stand tall between that wall of flames and protect that home.
Brush clearing rules of thumb:
- Clear brush within 200 feet of the home
- Bring grass and weeds down to 3 inches
- Trim bottom third of bushes, and the bottom 6 feet from trees
- Keep foliage at least 5 feet from the roof and 10 feet from a chimney
Make a kit
Captain Scott recommends having these things on hand:
- Gas in the car
- Pet supplies
When you see fire
If there's smoke or flames in the distance, now is the time to grab that box of important, personal items. Place them into your vehicle, back that vehicle into your driveway. Roll up your windows. Be prepared to go when told to do so.
When an evacuation order is given
We don't provide mandatory evacuations without very careful thought. It's based on weather conditions, the fire path, historic behavior of fire in those areas. If we have to tell people to evacuate — when we're working with law enforcement with loudspeakers down streets and knocking on doors — that's the time when people go and let us come in and do our job.
You can learn more about preparing for a fire here.
Press the blue play button to hear the full interview.
Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.