How to Protect Your Home Against Wildfires

How to Protect Your Home Against Wildfires

Homeowners face the catastrophic reality of their houses going up in flames every year as raging wildfires demolish everything in their path. But experts say wildfires like the ones causing devastation across Texas aren't the biggest threat. It's actually the embers, the sparks that fly from the fire, that take over and destroy homes.   

"Our message today is really 'Fear the ember.' Those embers will smolder and burn for several minutes and they will burn that house from the inside out, and within an hour that house is gone," says Julie Rochman, President and CEO of the Institute for Business and Home Safety in South Carolina.

Engineers at the IBHS wanted to find out what materials hold up against a raging fire. So they outfitted a test house in a giant warehouse, making one side flammable, and the other side flame resistant.

They sent sparks flying at the test house and flames quickly took over.

After the fire was extinguished, it was clear the flame-resistant side of the house had withstood the fire better than the flammable side.

So what can you do to protect your home?

Experts say always use HardiePlank Siding, made partially out of cement instead of vinyl, which quickly melted away during the demonstration.

And the gutters make a big difference. Always make sure they are clean of debris and, most importantly, made of aluminum.

The vinyl gutters melted right off the test house while the aluminum ones survived, even in a smoldering inferno.

"People can take control of this risk and prepare their homes to stand in case the fire services aren't there to put out any small spot fires."