Learn > Homeowners
Wildfire Safety Education
Wildfires now pose a year-round danger to Ventura County residents. As Chief Roper said, your participation in Ready, Set Go! is key. So in the next few minutes, I’ll be sharing some important things you need to know as a homeowner to protect yourself, your family, or tenants -- as well as your home and property -- in the event of a wildfire.
Spending a little time with me on these next pages will give you a better understanding of how we can all work together to keep our Ojai Valley safe from wildfire in the years to come.
Living next to a natural area means we are in what is called a Wildland Urban Interface – the place where homes are right next to large expanses of flammable grasses, trees and brush. Firefighters need your help as a homeowner to provide us with the Defensible Space we need in order to protect your home. This “defensible space” area acts as a buffer zone between your home and dense vegetation, giving firefighters a safe space to stand and protect your home. It also helps keep the fire away from your home and reduces the risks from flying embers.
There are two zones of any Defensible Space – Zone 1 which extends 30 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, and Zone 2, which goes from 30 to 100 feet out.
Here are some tips for Zone 1:
have 10 feet of vegetation clearance from all structures
stack wood piles at least 30 feet from any structure
keep propane tanks at least 30 feet from any structure, and give them 10 feet of vegetation clearance
don’t leave vegetation debris in piles on your property – clear it away as soon as possible
keep all plants and grass near your home well-watered and healthy
In Zone 1…
- Have 10 feet of vegetation clearance from all structures
- Stack wood piles at least 30 feet from any structure
- Keep propane tanks at least 30 feet from any structure, and give them 10 feet of vegetation clearance
- Don't leave vegetation debris in piles on your property – clear it away as soon as possible
- Keep all plants and grass near your home well-watered and healthy
Zone 2 and Ladder Fuels
Outside the 30-foot radius of Zone 1 is Zone 2, which extends from 30 to 100 feet out from all buildings and structures. In Zone 2, the removal of so-called "ladder fuels" is especially important, preventing flames from climbing from one plant to the next. Annual grasses need to be kept to a maximum height of 4". And tree canopies need to be keep trimmed to a minimum of 10 feet from other trees. Remove dead vegetation, and space remaining vegetation apart by three times the dimension of the plant.
Recommended Separation of Ladder Fuels
The Ember Zone
Any home within a mile of any natural wilderness area is in what we call the 'Ember Zone'. Fires caused by flying embers can destroy homes or entire neighborhoods far away from the actual flame front of a wildfire. Any home located within that Ember Zone is at risk from the wind-driven embers of wildfires. That’s why it's critical that all homeowners create and maintain a Defensible Space in these areas.
Hardened Homes are Defensible Homes
Home construction and materials are an integral part of what gives a home its best chance to survive a wildfire. There are measures you can take to safeguard your home.
Some of the important items to address include:
cleaning out rain gutters
boxing in eaves
placing screens in vents or using ember-resistant vents
sealing gaps in windows and doors, including your garage door, and
moving flammable materials away from the house, especially near windows
To "harden" your home even further, you might consider the addition of a residential fire sprinkler system.
Learn More - Click on the image
Here's a picture of three homes that show the critical areas and specific solutions for each, in detail. Just roll over for more info on each.
The first key step in the Ready-Set-Go program is the creation of a Family Safety Plan that every family member needs to be familiar with, including evacuation routes, and emergency meeting locations and contact information.
Other important supplies that will help ensure that your family is always ready include:
an emergency supply kit approved by the American Red Cross
an extra emergency kit in your car as a backup, and
a portable radio or scanner to get updates about the fire
Be sure everyone knows where the gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to use them.
Other important supplies that will help ensure that your family is always ready include:
- fire extinguishers
- an emergency supply kit approved by the American Red Cross
- an extra emergency kit in your car as a backup, and
- a portable radio or scanner to get updates about the fire
Get Set - When Wildfire Threatens
You need to have evacuation plans to ensure your family can get out of the wildfire danger zone as quickly and safely as possible. Alert family and neighbors and evacuate as soon as you are set. Have your emergency supply kit at hand and be dressed in appropriate clothing.
Here's an Inside Checklist of steps for preparing your house for leaving:
Shut all doors and windows and leave them unlocked
Remove all flammable window shades and lightweight curtains
Close metal shutters if you have them
Move flammable furniture to the center of the room away from windows and doors
Shut off gas at the meter
Turn off pilot lights
Shut off air conditioning.
Get Set - Inside Checklist
- Shut all doors and windows and leave them unlocked
- Remove all flammable window shades and lightweight curtains
- Close metal shutters if you have them
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room away from windows and doors
- Shut off air conditioning.
Get Set - Outside Checklist
Once you’ve completed items on the Inside Checklist, begin preparations outside.
An Outside Checklist includes:
gather up flammable items from exterior of the house
turn off propane tanks
turn off any water sprinklers
leave exterior lights on
back car your into the driveway
shut doors and windows
have a ladder available
patrol your property and put out any small fires until you leave.
- Gather up flammable items from exterior of the house
- Turn off propane tanks
- Turn off any water sprinklers
- Leave exterior lights on
- Back car your into the driveway
- Shut doors and windows
- Have a ladder available
- Patrol your property and put out any small fires until you leave.
Finally, it's important to leave as early as possible to have the best chance to GO safely.
When to go:Leave early enough to avoid being caught in the fire, smoke or road congestion. Don't wait to be told by authorities to leave.
Where to go:Remember your Family Safety Plan? Leave to the pre-arranged location on that plan – a well-prepared neighbor or relative's house, a Red Cross shelter or evacuation center, a motel, etc. – go to a safe place.
How to get there:In your Family Safety Plan, have several alternate routes ready in case one is blocked by the fire or emergency vehicles. Travel away from the fire.
What to take:Have your emergency supply kit with you, and your family and pet's necessary items.
When to leave, where to go and how to get there are important questions to have answered before you're actually in a dangerous wildfire. Being prepared and well-informed about these survival tips is you best chance at keeping yourself and your family safe in any wildfire event.
If You Are Trapped
While getting out is usually the best option, sometimes people are unable to leave before the flame front arrives. If you become trapped by approaching wildfire, here are some things you can do:shelter away from outside walls disconnect all garden hoses and bring them into the house so embers don't destroy them patrol inside your house for spot fires and put them out immediately wear long sleeves made of natural fibers like cotton stay hydrated make sure you have a way to exit the house ( but remember – it's four to five times hotter outside than it is inside the house) fill sinks and tubs for emergency water place towels under doors to keep smoke and embers out.
After the fire passes, check your roof and put out any out any fires, sparks or embers; patrol your property and put out small fires; and any fires you can't put out with a small amount of water, call 911.
- Shelter away from outside walls
- Disconnect all garden hoses and bring them into the house so embers don't destroy them
- Patrol inside your house for spot fires and put them out immediately
- Wear long sleeves made of natural fibers like cotton
- Stay hydrated
- Make sure you have a way to exit the house ( but remember – it's four to five times hotter outside than it is inside the house)
- Fill sinks and tubs for emergency water
- Place towels under doors to keep smoke and embers out
Things to Remember
Ventura County has some of the most destructive wildfires in the nation. Our topography, combined with our ocean influence and steep canyons, creates fierce down-canyon winds that can reach more than 75 miles per hour, with temperatures up to 100 degrees and relative humidity that drops down to single digit numbers – creating conditions ripe for wildfire.
The Fire Department can't be there to protect every single home at the same time. Each of us has a responsibility to do everything we can to help them, by keeping our homes as defensible as possible and making sure that we know what to do to keep ourselves and our families safe by following the Ready-Set-Go wildfire safety plan.
To find out more about wildfire safety, check the Resources section of this website for relevant links, downloadable brochures, and other helpful information.
(Bill Nash on camera speaking)Thanks for staying with us through this presentation. Please feel free to go back and review any of the pages.
(then pan to Bob Roper on camera speaking)The Ojai Valley is a beautiful place to live, work and enjoy. We appreciate your cooperation in helping us keep it a safe place too.
(fade to Ready, Set GO! image)
Next page is for incentive system, if it is activated, to collect their eMail address.
After that is the “Resources” page with links and helpful info (no narration). If incentive system is off, prior slide jumps straight to Resources page.