Safe from the flame: How to protect your home from wildfires

A woman waters her garden vegetation, which sits 20 feet from her home that features a fire-resistant, steel roof.

They’re ferocious, uncontrollable, and devastating. In 2023 alone, they burned 16.5 million hectares of Canadian forest. In our drier, hotter summers, wildfires have become a great threat to our ecosystems and our communities. Though we may seem helpless in the face of these gargantuan monsters, there are things you can do to protect your home from their ferocity. 

A coast-to-coast concern 

Just because the greatest devastation is felt in British Columbia and Alberta, it doesn’t mean the rest of the nation can rest easy. You can live in the prairies, a kilometre or more from the nearest forested area. However a carpet of fire can roll out through tall dry grasses, taking a home with it. Even Nova Scotia, where no home is ever further than 67 kilometres from the ocean, was impacted by wildfires in the summer of 2023. In that same year, all 20,000 citizens of the Arctic city of Yellowknife needed to leave immediately when their evacuation alert transitioned to an evacuation order. The order lasted for three entire weeks. No matter where you live, it’s always best to be prepared

Create a safe space

Even the smallest ember can lead to disaster. It can find the fuel it needs in a patch of dried dead leaves lining the bottom of an eavestrough. That’s why it’s important to maintain a fuel-free zone in the immediate proximity of your home:

  • Clean the dried vegetation from your gutters.
  • Keep combustible furniture or items stored under the deck at least 1.5 metres from the home.
  • Use rock gardens and hardscapes to act as “fuel breaks”.
  • Plant fire-resistant plants that aren’t prone to accumulating dead vegetation and keep them well watered.
  • Store firewood and propane tanks away from the home.
  • Avoid using bark or pine needle mulches within 10 metres of your home.

You’ll also need to maintain a safe space further from your home:

  • Keep grasses short, rake clippings, and ensure that the area around your home is brush-free.
  • Remove any dead vegetation.
  • Space trees three metres apart.
  • Prune and remove all tree branches within two metres from the ground (on all trees within 100 metres of the home).

Shield your home from fire

There are several things that you can do to protect your home from wildfires:

  • Install fire-resistant roofing material and shingles.
  • Install fire-resistant siding.
  • Cover exterior vents with 3mm screening to prevent embers from entering the home.
  • Ensure you have fire-rated doors with a good seal.
  • Install tempered or thermal (multi-paned) windows.
  • Seal any gaps in all utility connections going through exterior walls or roofs with fire-resistant caulk or mortar.

Get a smart start to fire prevention

Get a quick jump with this handy home self-assessment guide or visit to learn how you can minimize the impact of wildfires to your home with helpful resources like the:

  • FireSmart Begins at Home app
  • FireSmart 101 one-hour course
  • Advanced Home Assessment Program
  • And more…

Be safe from the flame 

Keeping your home protected from wildfires can simply involve landscape work that requires your time, effort and planning. You might also want to consider the investment in certain modifications to your home for that extra security knowing that your home, and everything in it, has an extra layer of protection from this ever-growing wildfire worry. Through our other stories, Safe from the flame: The cause and cost of wildfires and Safe from the flame: How to survive a wildfire, you can learn more about the issue and what you can do about them. 

For extra peace of mind, discover what you can do before, during, and after a wildfire with these helpful tips from the Red Cross.

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