Preparing for Wildfire Season in Nevada County – Week 1: Take an inventory

Nevada City, Calif. December 10, 2018 – This is the first of twenty-five weekly stories to help Nevada County residents prepare for the next high fire season. Each week will be devoted to one aspect of wildfire preparedness and prevention.

Take an inventory – inside and out

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Start inside – and update regularly

A home inventory guide is available to all consumers through the California Department of Insurance by calling 800-927-4357 or visit their website and download the Home Inventory Guide.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free app myHOME Scr.APP.book that lets users capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers of personal possessions and stores the information electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information by room and creates a back-up file for email sharing. To download the free app, go to the iTunes® or Android® Market app stores and search “NAIC.” Don’t forget to inventory your garage/barn and storage sheds!

Once you have completed the inventory, store copies in several locations – be that in the cloud, on a flash drive or hard copies. Give a copy to relatives or friends outside the area, store a copy at work if possible or in a safe deposit box. Don’t forget to update your home inventory regularly or after large purchases. The CA Insurance Department recommends home inventories should be updated at least three times per year, and your insurance company should be notified of new purchases so that you are adequately insured for the entire amount of your belongings.

Outside inventory and to-do list

Use the dry weather to walk around your house and property, make a list of work to be done during winter and early spring.

Start by checking the outside of your home. Make a list of possible repairs, gutters or screens that need replacing. If you have a woodpile, is it far enough away from the house?

Look at your driveway, does it have sufficient clearance for a fire engine to drive up?

Defensible space – Minimum requirements per CAL FIRE

You can download the “Wildfire is coming, are you ready?” brochure from CAL FIRE’s website to give you a good idea about defensible space, tree spacing etc. The 100-ft defensible space around your home is divided into two zones:

Zone 1 extends 30 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation).
  • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
  • Relocate wood piles into Zone 2.
  • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.

  • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees.
  • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees.
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches.

Not sure if your home and property are in good shape? Help is here

Nevada County residents can avail themselves of free defensible space advisory visits by your local fire department or the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County. If you live in one of the 24 recognized Firewise Communities in Nevada County, or the 23 communities-in-training, join your neighbors and benefit from their expertise. You can contact the Fire Safe Council via phone at 530-272-1122.

Nevada County OES is looking into adding an additional Defensible Space Inspector throughout the winter to continue forward momentum on creating defensible space on private property throughout Nevada County.

Nevada county fire department websites:

Note that some fire departments do not have a digital presence at this time, i.e. Washington Fire Department and Ophir Hill Fire.

This concludes Week 1 of 25, check back next Monday for “How will I know?” Existing emergency notification options and how to stay informed during an emergency.

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