Sunday, July 25, 2021


Mesonet at SD State Eagle Butte realtime weather web widget

Home maintenance tips


Greetings everyone.

This week I will cover some tips to protect your home or business from the threat of wildfire.

The threat of wildfire is growing nationwide and, due to changing climate conditions, wildfire is now a threat almost year-round.

There are some low-cost actions you can take. Other precautions are more costly; but as a property owner you already understand owning a structure means continual investment to maintain your home or commercial property.

These tips can also be easily applied to homes owned by readers outside the West River area, and we have quite a few.

I will cover low-cost options first and then get into higher cost items that are proven to save homes in many fire scenarios.

The one scenario to keep up front in your mind is that fire crews can’t defend every property. They will often choose to make a stand at homes that have the best chance of survival based on the building materials used.

As an example, crews may choose to make a stand at a home with a metal roof over a home with wood shake roof — knowing they have the best chance saving the property with the metal roof.

Easy low-cost steps for protecting your property

1. Remove dead brush and tree branches from your entire 

property, and cut out low tree branches.

2. Avoid using beauty bark materials in landscaping and use 

mulch instead.

3. Make sure all plants remain at least 5 feet away from any 

structure.

4. Keep your trash and recycle bins at least 30 feet away from 

your home.

5. Keep fire wood piles at least 30 feet away from your home.

Moderately priced (<$1,000) steps to protect your property

1. Box in your eaves if you have open construction. Meaning, 

if you can see your roof rafter tails they are “exposed” or open. 

Use Class A fire resistant materials such as Hardie® trim 

boards or textured panels, which are actually a concrete, f

iberglass and resin material that looks like wood and cuts and 

secures like wood, but is not wood.

2. Make sure garage doors close fully with no gaps.

3. If you have a history of fires in proximity to your home, 

install fire shutters on all windows made of manmade Class A 

fire -rated materials.

Higher cost jobs you can do (or contract out) that will need be done at some point on any home or commercial structure.

1. Replace your roof with steel roofing or Class A fire-rated 

materials; not all shingles are created equal.

2. Replace siding with HardiePlank® lap siding, stone 

materials, or metal.

3. Replace single-pane windows with double- or quad-pane 

windows with metal frames.

4. Install in-home fire sprinklers with reserve tanks. They 

don’t cost as much as you might think.

Think beyond your property

1. Make sure neighborhood fire hydrants are easily seen 

and keep them painted with Hi Viz Yellow paint. Install blue 

pavement markers (also known as Botts’ dots or road turtles) 

or reflective raised pavement markers 30 feet from the 

hydrants. Make sure hydrants can be accessed a full 360 

degrees and up to six feet outward.

2. Help your elderly neighbor clean their yard of debris and 

clutter.

3. If you have large dead trees (such as pines with pine 

beetle damage) on property lines, work with your neighbors 

to collectively pay for the removal. In some areas of the 

country, tree service companies will remove trees free of 

charge if they can keep the wood.

Myths and Misconceptions

1. MYTH: Installing fire sprinkler systems on your roof or in 

your yard will help.

When a major fire erupts in a neighborhood, all residential 

water is often diverted to the hydrants to maximize pressure.

2. MYTH: Homeowners insurance policies cover wild fires.

They do not. In more and more states, special riders are 

required for homes, structures and vehicles.

3. MYTH: The fire fighters will get to us; we do not need to 

worry.

In a wild fire, especially in rural areas with small volunteer 

departments, people power is scarce. Have a “go bag” ready 

and leave before the fire reaches your street.

Mark your entry door with a red X upon leaving. This 

indicates to rescuers that the building or home is clear of 

people so they can move on to the next home. Be ready to go at 

least an hour before an evacuation order of any level.

4. MYTH: The fire department knows what you have…after all, 

you get inspected each year.

If you own a business, have all chemical place cards in a 

highly visible area at the entry to your business. Drop off a list 

of known, always on hand, daily-use hazmat products you 

stock to your fire chief. This saves lives and time.

The fire department knows ahead of time what is there and 

how (or if) they can safely defend it, they can order 

evacuations based on what you have ahead of time, thus 

saving your neighborhood from deadly explosions or chemical 

exposure.

5. FACT: Be ready to live outside of your home for three days 

in case of fire. This means survival, not comfort.

Last but not least, as a homeowner, housing authorities and non-profits will help you through a fire emergency as best they can. If you are able, and not yet an elder, leave these resources for those who can’t get resources due to age or other factors out of their control. If you own a home and work, there are many lending options open right now as rates are dipping again to record lows.

For more tips look up Farmers Insurance Catastrophe Center (www.farmers.com/catastrophe/), National Fire Prevention Association (nfpa.org/), 

SafeHome.org (www.safehome.org/) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/).

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