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Valley Focus

Protecting Your Home

October 25, 1996

This week's wildfires serve as a reminder that residents of hillside areas should preparefor fires well before they strike. Here are tips of what you can do to protect your homebefore, during and after a fire.

Before Firefighters Arrive.

* Back car into garage for quick escape; close car windows.

* Have predetermined, practiced escape routes.

* Be prepared to open garage door manually if electricity goes out.

* Place valuables and documents, including videos and photo albums in car.

* Have pets ready to go.

Defending Your House.

* Place non-combustible ladder against house for roof access.

* Attach 100-ft. hose to spigot

* Close doors and windows, seal attic and basement vents

* Remove sheer window curtains, close heavy curtains.

* Store combustile materials, such as patio furniture, in garage.

* Fill large trash cans with water and place around house.

* Leave lights on in house. Heavy smoke makes house dark.

* Wet roof with garden hose only when fire comes to within 600 feet, then get down from roof.

And After the Fire Passes.

* With a garden hose, barrels of water and damp rugs, extinguish any small spot fires. Keep doors and windows closed. Maintain a four-hour vigil around house, checking that no embers have gotten into attic or under the eaves.

Fire at Your Doorstep

* If the fire is moving swiftly, it may be safer to stay in your house rather than to try to outrun it. The fire front may move so quickly that it could pass the house. If the roof catches fire, get in your car, pull into the driveway and turn on air conditioning. Stay put. That's safer than driving through smoke and heat.

Keep wood piles away from buildings.

Trim or remove tree limbs near house and remove leaves from roof and gutters.

Cover chimney with half- inch steel mesh to prevent sparks from igniting roof or brush.

Clear brush from area surrounding property. State law requires residents to keep flammable vegetation cleared for 30 feet away from structures.

Source: Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department

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