Mid-to-late fall is wildfire season in Southern California. And, unfortunately, we’re now in the middle of one of the most serious epidemics of wildfires in recent memory. We hope you and your family stay safe and your property remains undamaged during this rough period. We have a few fire preparation and safety tips to assist you, especially when it comes to indoor air quality, one of our specialties.
This is a major fire season!
Over the past week, more than 300 fires have broken out across the state. Because of dry conditions and high Santa Ana winds reaching 50 to 70 mph, these brush fires can move with stunning speed. One fire in Simi Valley burned 1,300 acres in less than five hours. Although there are no reported fatalities so far, the property damage is tremendous and areas are experiencing rolling blackouts to prevent electrical sparking from creating further damage.
Keeping your home safer
You may not think there’s much you can do against a wildfire, but you can take precautions:
- Clear away all dead leaves, branches, and other debris from gutters, porches, decks, and eaves. Make a defensible space 10 feet around the house by clearing away dried vegetation.
- Move any flammable materials away from the house, such as wood stacks and propane tanks.
- Hydrate and maintain your lawn.
- Trim tree branches near the house.
- Cover exterior attic vents with mesh to stop larger particles and embers from drifting in.
- Have an emergency kit ready in a safe spot, and store important valuables like identification, documentation, and medications in it.
- Plan two ways out of the house and arrange for a meeting place for your family in case of separation.
- Keep radio, television, and internet on to listen for emergency alerts, and follow any emergency instructions immediately.
Helping with indoor air quality
Even if no wildfires come near enough to threaten your house, indoor air quality often plummets because the smoke and ash from fires can drift for hundreds of miles. Here are ways to help protect your indoor air quality:
- Close all windows and doors, including the garage door. If you have an HVAC system that accesses outdoor air vents, shut off these vents.
- Avoid doing activities that will add pollutants into the air, such as cooking, cleaning with any chemical cleaners, smoking, or using combustion products.
- Change the air filters in the HVAC system. These can easily become clogged with soot and other harmful particles, which will then start to circulate around the house.
- If there are people in your house who have respiratory sensitivities, consider purchasing N95 or P100 respirator masks, recommended by the US EPA. You can purchase these at hardware stores. Plain wet cloth and paper masks are not effective at filtering wildfire smoke.
We recommend making an investment in powerful whole-house air filters and purifiers for future wildfire seasons. Speak to our home service experts to find out more about installing these products.
Call A-Avis Home Services Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Like our shoe covers, our customers are the coolest!