When will Colorado be hit by another devastating wildfire? No one knows for sure—but we do know that the probability is high due to our naturally dry climate, a summer weather forecast of potential drought conditions, and the tinderbox effects of ubiquitous pine beetle kill. Here's what to expect—and how to make sure you're ready for the heat.
Ounces of Prevention
Having good home insurance is a must, but if you live in a high-risk fire area, these 10 tips could save your house.
1. Avoid wood-shake roofs and wooden decks and exteriors—they're susceptible to flying embers and ash—and choose fire-resistant, non-combustible building materials such as "fake-shake" plastic, slate, or stucco.
2. Invest indual-pane windows and fire-resistant blinds, drapes, and other window treatments; the temperature of flames may be high enough to penetrate normal glass and burn the interior of the house.
3. Create further "defensible space" by clearing out fallen leaves, pine needles, and flammable plants within 30 feet of the home. Maintain shrubs and regularly mow and water the lawn.
4. Stack firewood piles at least 30 feet from the home, and clear gutters to prevent rapid spreading.
5. Remove limbs that come within six feet of the house, trim treetops to at least 15 feet from each other, and clear any low-hanging branches.
During a Fire
6. Turn on lights inside the house for increased visibility through thick smoke.
7. Shut off propane, natural gas, and pilot lights.
8. Connect a hose—stored in an easily accessible space with essentials like a ladder, shovel, and bucket—to outside spigots, and wet your roof and shrubs with lawn sprinklers.
9. Remove curtains and move patio furniture and interior furnishings to the center of rooms, away from windows and glass doors.
10. Be vigilant about checking the roof and attic for embers and smoke.