Fire Safety Guidelines
Clear That Dry Brush
The warm, dry climate and semi-rural landscape that has attracted us to the Palos Verdes Peninsula brings with it the potential for disaster each summer and fall. Although we have been very lucky here on the Peninsula in recent years, almost every year since 1982 wildfires in California has resulted in either gubernatorial proclamations of a state of emergency or presidential declarations of a major disaster.
To reduce your risk of fire-related death, injury or property damage take these precautions to make the environment outside and inside your home safer.
Outside Your Home
- Box and enclose roof eaves that extend beyond the exterior walls of the house.
- Clear debris from the roof, gutters, and downspouts.
- Clear dry grass, brush and leaves out of your yard.
- Cover all attic and ridge vents with non-flammable 1/2-inch mesh screens.
- Cover chimneys and stovepipes with non-flammable 1/2-inch or fewer mesh screens.
- Keep gas and propane tanks at least 30 feet from all structures and 10 feet from hazards.
- Keep plants, shrubs, and trees away from power lines.
- Make sure the address number of your house is clearly visible at the curbside.
- Prune lower limbs within 6 feet of the ground on trees 18 feet high or taller to prevent ground fires from spreading to trees.
- Relocate firewood at least 30 feet from all structures and 10 feet from vegetation.
- Remove dead limbs located over roofs and all limbs within 10 feet of chimneys.
- Remove weak, dead or leaning trees.
- Replace wood shake and other combustible roofing materials with noncombustible materials.
- Thin out heavily wooded areas.
- Use fire-resistant plants to the landscape.
- Vary the heights of plants, shrubs, and trees, and provide adequate spacing between them.
Inside Your Home
- Change the batteries every 6 months.
- Install smoke detectors on ceilings inside each bedroom and in the hallway on every level.
- Make sure your smoke detectors are made and certified by an approved lab.
- Test detectors at least once per month.
- Ensure that fire extinguishers are approved by an independent testing lab.
- Place fire extinguishers in easily accessible locations.
- Remember the word P-A-S-S when using the extinguisher:
- Pull the pin.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames.
- Squeeze the trigger.
- Sweep the chemical side-to-side to extinguish the fire.
- Teach responsible family members where they are located and how to use them.
Plan for Evacuation
Develop and practice an evacuation plan for your home. Your plan should include:
- A designated place to reunite after evacuation
- A floor plan marked with all escape routes
- A list of valuables to take in an emergency. Store them in 1 place.
- Easily accessible exits for young children, seniors and persons with disabilities. Locate their rooms close to exits.
- The location of animal shelters or other sites which house pets.
Work with neighbors to assist:
- People who need transportation to other sites.
- People with special needs.
Work with local emergency officials to identify:
- Likely evacuation sites.
- Several routes out of your neighborhood.
What to Do When a Fire Occurs
If a fire occurs while you are inside, remember the following:
- Call 911 and tell the dispatcher where you are.
- Feel the top and the bottom of the door with the back of your hand before exiting. Cautiously open the door if it is cool. Do not exit if the door is hot. Try your alternate exit instead. Repeat this step at every closed door.
- Close doors behind you when evacuating to slow down flames, smoke and heat.
- Help young children, seniors and persons with disabilities to evacuate.
- Close the door and stay in the room if fire, smoke or heat are blocking all of your escape routes.
- Keep smoke and fumes out by stuffing cracks around doors and vents with sheets, blankets, etc.
- Open a window if no smoke is entering the room and place a sheet or a cloth outside as a signal for help.