Smart landscaping could prevent future wildfire home damage, injury

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah is in a drought, it’s dry out there, you know that; But have you ever thought about how much landscaping could protect your home from damage from forest fires?

Utah State University says the risk of a house fire is directly related to nearby combustible materials. Forestry experts say a few hours of gardening could prevent the unthinkable as this year’s fire season and ongoing drought deepen.

USU suggests that we can help preventive fire fighters and increase safety by doing simple things like gathering leaves or pine needles, pruning trees and bushes, and making sure that wooded areas around the property are thinned and far from houses are away.

Do not assume your safety

USU forest specialist Dr. Michael Kuhns says people often think their homes will be fine when wildfire approaches. He warns that a simple emergency evacuation will not protect your home.

“It takes some acreage, or area larger than most people own, to be in control, so you can be pretty sure you’re not going through a catastrophic fire,” says Dr. “You really aren’t in danger until you’re maybe 50 feet or so from the structure.”

Since many of us don’t own an acre of land, there are a few simple steps we can take now.

“The plants that you use, how you arrange them in the landscape and how you then care for them. These three areas are the most important, ”explains Dr. Kuhns.

You don’t have to do it alone

As with most problems in life, sometimes they are best addressed with a little help. Dr. Kuhns says that this also applies to “fire-like landscaping”.

“Not many people have 50 meters around their property,” says Dr. Kunhns. “That’s why you need to know your neighbors what to do against fire and what you can do together.”

Unfortunately, he says, most people probably don’t have these conversations with people who live nearby. He suggests starting this ritual as soon as possible.

There are many other ways to protect your property. Dr. Kuhns has written a brochure with Utah State University on the subject.

The brochure is called Firewise Landscaping for Utah and you can download a free PDF copy here.

Other reading:

Boy Scout camp evacuated when wildfire burns near Soldiers Summit

“Nothing looks good” Preparation for the summer forest fire season

Fire safety in Utah is vital during the forest fire season

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