Wildfire Preparation Tips

Protect Your Home & Loved Ones

Routt County, the Colorado State Forest Service, the Routt County Wildland Fire Multi-Agency Coordinating Advisory and Policy Groups, and local fire protection districts offer the following guidelines and actions to protect your home and your loved ones - responsibly creating an environment that can give you a fighting chance should you or your home be caught in a wildfire.

  • Check with local officials to see what fire protection is available in your area.
  • Evaluate the building site. Choose a site away from heavily vegetated areas. Level is better than sloped. Structures located on ridge tops or in ravines can be in the direct path of a fire.
  • Provide easy access for emergency vehicles. A steep, narrow or winding driveway can impede access of larger emergency vehicles.

Design & Build Fire Safe Structures

  • The number one danger is untreated wood shake roofs. Use Class A roofing materials, rated effective against severe fire exposure.
  • Walls should be made of fire resistant materials from the ground to the roof overhang.
  • Minimize the size and number of windows on the side of the house that would more likely be exposed to a fire.
  • Clearly display your property's address so fire fighters can easily find your residence.

Create & Maintain a Safe Environment

  • Create a defensible space around your home and the major structures on your property, following the guidelines shown in the accompanying drawing. Defensible space around a structure clears and thins vegetation that could serve as fuel for a fire. It also provides room for firefighters to work. Contact the Colorado State Forest Service for assistance in the design of a defensible space around your home.
  • Clear away wood debris around your home and under your deck.
  • Stack firewood well away from your home or outbuildings.
  • Dispose of fireplace ash in a metal, covered container, and place the container away from decks and other potential fuel areas. Remember, embers can smolder for days.
  • Have chimneys and flues cleaned and inspected regularly.

If a Fire Occurs Near Your Home

  • If your home is threatened by wildfire, you may be contacted by a fire or law enforcement official and advised to evacuate.
  • Ensure your family's safety. If you are able, evacuate your pets but do not jeopardize your life.
  • Know where safety areas are within your subdivision. Meadows, rock outcrops and wide roads are good examples.
  • Know all emergency escape routes and have a preplanned travel route. Don't panic but drive slowly to safety.

Prepare Outside Your Home, If Possible

In a major wildfire, it may be physically impossible for your local fire protection district to provide enough equipment and manpower to protect your home. Only if you have time, you may want to take the following steps to help protect your home:

  • Remove combustible items from around the house. This includes lawn furniture, umbrellas and tarp coverings. If they catch fire, the added heat could ignite your home.
  • Close outside attic, eave and basement vents. This will eliminate the possibility of sparks blowing into hidden areas within the house. Close window shutters.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside faucets so they can reach any place on the house.
  • Place a ladder against the roof of the house opposite the side of the approaching fire. If you have a combustible roof, set a lawn sprinkler on it.

Prepare Inside Your Home

  • Shut off gas at the meter or at the propane tank.
  • Close all windows and doors, but do not lock them!
  • Close all doors inside the house to block the circulation of air and movement of fire.
  • Open the damper on your fireplace to help stabilize outside/inside pressure. Close fireplace screen.
  • Turn on a light in each room of the house, on the porch, and in the yard. This will make the house more visible in heavy smoke or at night.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and other containers with water.
  • Take down lightweight curtains and close heavyweight drapes. Move overstuffed furniture away from windows and glass doors.
  • Park car in driveway. Close car windows. Leave keys in ignition.
  • Close garage doors but leave unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door opener.