This is the time of the year to protect your camps and cottages from wildfire

Is your cottage prepared for wildfires?

Although “fire season” has passed for this calendar year, it is still a great time to implement Firewise practices around your primary and second homes. Along with closing up cottages, camps and cabins as we head into winter, owners should be looking for areas they can improve to help protect their structures from wild fires that may threaten before they return next year.

With deer season upon us, many rural second home owners will be returning to their camps and cottages for the last time this year. Along with closing up the structures at the end of the season consider running through a check-list of items designed to help protect your structures in the face of wildfire.

Wet fall conditions followed by winter snow cover may seem like adequate protection for structures from wildfires however this can be a disastrous assumption. Although “fire season” probably won’t be until next spring following snow melts; it is unlikely most owners will have time to Firewise their structures at that time. A better plan is to leave your property prepared rather than to “hope to get back in time” next spring.

Michigan State University Extension through the Firewise Community program,  provides fact sheets and materials that will assist home, cottage and camp owners with better protecting their structures. At a minimum, landowners should review and implement the following suggestions to better insure they have done what is needed to better protect their valuable structures.

  • Make sure road signs and fire numbers/street addresses are easy to see.
  • Ensure access roads will allow for two-way traffic to pass.
  • Open adequate area for emergency vehicles to get turned around near buildings.
  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under your deck or porch and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks, dry vegetation) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Mow around buildings.
  • Prune conifer trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Inspect shingles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screen with metal mesh to prevent embers from entering.

For those interested in more information on the National Firewise Communities program or in reviewing additional materials they can be accessed via their website or contact one of the MSU Extension Firewise program educators via the Ask an Expert webpage.

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