As Florida continues to suffer dry conditions that are feeding wildfires, it’s important to be aware of what you should do to protect both your home and your community.
The extreme dry conditions that are currently fueling more than 90 active fires throughout the state have warranted bans on a number of types of outdoor burning. Duval county always prohibits outdoor burning, but Nassau, Clay, St. Johns, and other counties in our area have halted outdoor burning at this time. This isn’t limited to just disposing of unwanted trash or debris; don’t light an ambient outdoor fire on a cool evening either. Protect yourself, your property, and your neighborhood by not striking any matches.
Dry conditions coupled with flammable fuel can prolong dangerous wildfires, and also make adjacent buildings casualties of the blaze. Whether your property is directly threatened by the fires or is just within the dry area, it’s wise to clear any debris or unwanted items in your yard that could contribute to the blaze. Clear combustible items, dead foliage, yard waste, and clutter, especially away from your garage or home. This also includes moving outdoor furniture, wooden planters, and other items you’ll want to keep but that could be dangerous at this time. Carefully dispose of unwanted items—without burning—so that no (or fewer) fire fuel is adjacent to your residence.
Fill Gaps and Reinforce Glass
Because of its sheer size, your garage door can be one of the most vulnerable entrances into your home, so it’s important to be prepared in the face of any number of natural threats, including not only hurricanes (which we’ve discussed before), but also wildfires. Air gaps are the greatest threat, as small embers can breach them and bring the fire indoors.
Check your door’s adjustment for gaps, particularly along the bottom if the driveway or garage floor isn’t level. Have the door adjusted, or add weather-stripping to fill in any spaces.
Check also for gaps along the sides or top where the door doesn’t meet the walls and seals/weather-stripping, and make any needed repairs.
Check the seals of any other exterior doors that allow entry into the garage.
Make sure windows, either integrated into the garage door or the walls of the garage, are properly sealed. Tempered glass is ideal, but other considerations, including the number of panes, affect the heat resistance of the windows. If your windows aren’t in need of replacement for other reasons, then you may want to reinforce or protect the window areas with heat-resistant materials until the threat passes.
Have a Plan
Ultimately, as much as you want to protect your property from the threat of wildfire, the most important thing is that you and your loved ones are safe. Do as much property preparation as possible, but then have a plan for when and how to evacuate if the danger becomes life-threatening.
Keep an eye on local and regional news, stow a supply kit in your vehicle, and be prepared—if necessary—to transport your family and pets to safety.