Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, recommends homeowners adopt Firewise steps to protect their homes. Firewise is an educational program that teaches homeowners and communities how to take proactive steps.

“Every year there are homes lost due to wildfire, but homeowners are being urged to take measures to improve their home’s defensible space by utilizing Firewise techniques,” said George Geissler, State Forester. “These measures will give your home a better chance of surviving if a wildfire burns through your property.”

Defensible space is a buffer between a home and surrounding areas of dense grass and tree growth. This buffer should contain as few flammable materials as possible. A few simple things like keeping lawns mowed short, removing leaves and other flammables from beneath porches, out of gutters or off roofs will help. Removing anything flammable that touches, or almost touches homes, robs wildfires of “ladder fuels” that have the potential of burning right up to homes.

Consider removing trees, wilted plants and vegetation that have inched too close to structures. The lower limbs of healthy trees should be trimmed to keep them well above any fire that might burn beneath them.

Piles of firewood and portable propane tanks should be moved as far away from homes as possible, as well as dead limbs and leaves that have accumulated under porches.

If remodeling, consider fire risk when choosing siding, roofing materials and fence types. For example, asphalt shingles are much less flammable than wood shake.

Installing a segment of metal fence or brick wall between a wood fence and house minimizes the chance of the wood fence catching fire and then setting the home on fire.

Hard sidings like concrete masonry board, rock or brick will protect your home much longer than vinyl siding when exposed to the heat of a wildfire.

For more information on making homes Firewise, visit http://www.forestry.ok.gov/defensible-space or call 405-522-6158.