Why do we need a fireproof home? The answer is pretty obvious. No one wants to be among the 2,500 average casualties of residential fires each year in the United States alone. Aside from the obvious reason that you don’t want to go down in a literal blaze, there are other advantages of a fireproof home.
Some building materials that are gaining popularity among homesteaders are not only fireproof but also great insulators. Those with a high R-value or the capacity to resist heat flow keep the home energy efficient as there is less need for heaters and air conditioners.
These kinds of building materials are also pretty cheap and easy to use. You can build a fireproof home without having to break the bank by using such materials. Plus, you can build your home on your own provided you know a bit about carpentry and other necessary skills.
If you have a fireproof home, you have one less thing to worry about with regards to the safety of your loved ones, property, and belongings. A little peace of mind is important these days.
Building Materials For Your Fireproof Home
While wood has its good points, it doesn’t do well in preventing fire. There are other building materials you can use for your fireproof home.
Some homesteaders are opting for straw bale as a building material for their homes. It’s difficult for straw bale, when used correctly, to catch fire. We all know that fire needs oxygen to burn. Since straw bale is a dense material, it can be packed in a way that the oxygen is unreachable by fire.
Straw bale has an R-value of 26 so it’s a good insulator. It also saves you a lot of money. Straw bale is inexpensive and lowers your power consumption since your fireproof home doesn’t get too cold or hot depending on the weather outside.
There are potential issues with straw bales, however. Mold can easily develop once the straw bales get wet. It’s not a good option for people to build their fireproof homes in a place where moisture and humidity are high.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)
If you like playing with Lego, you’ll love building your fireproof home with these polystyrene blocks. ICFs are filled with concrete, which makes them extremely fire-resistant. In fact, these blocks have been used for decades in buildings and schools because of their fire-resistant quality. The problem with ICFs is that they are more expensive than regular wood. However, you could end up wasting more money if your wooden house burns down.
Glass and Metal
Wired tempered glass is one of the best materials for a fireproof home. The glass itself is fire-resistant while steel framing will help in keeping your home safe.
Fire-resistant Roofing and Siding
A fireproof wall is no good if the roof is burning. Stay away from wooden roofing and use fire-resistant materials such as concrete, metal, and tiles. Use brick, stone, or stucco for your sidings or exterior. If you insist on using wood because of its look, there are safer options. Fiber cement clapboards and shingles look like wood but are fire-resistant.
Fire Retardant Paint
Some paints are made specifically to hinder the spread of fire. These fire-retardant paints are usually used for buildings and other public facilities.
Natural Ways to Fireproof Your Home
Aside from using fireproof or fire-retardant materials, you can keep your home safe from fire by utilizing the tips listed below.
Create a Firebreak
Fire spreads easily and fast. We’ve seen this with forest fires. You can protect your home from spreading and razing bush fire by creating a firebreak. Remove combustible materials such as dried grass and leaves, weeds, deadwood, undergrowth, and vegetation around your property. Place gravel on the ground around. Plowing the soil may also work to prevent fire from spreading to your place. Gardens, flowerbeds, and mulch can also act as firebreaks. A firebreak of around 100 feet is ideal.
Build Fireproof Barriers
Use concrete not only as a firebreak but also by building walls. Stone walls, in particular, are a great defense against fire. Other structures you can build to hinder the spread of fire are roadways, decks, and patios. You can also use concrete to stop or at least slow down incoming fire from reaching flammable materials.
Some shrubs are fire-resistant and can be planted around your property to hinder fire. California Fuchsia, California lilac, French lavender, hedging roses, yellow ice plant, shrub apples, currant, bush honeysuckles, sumac, ornamental strawberry, and cotoneaster are examples of fire-resistant plants you can use for your fireproof home. Cherry trees, maple, plant hardwood, and poplar are also fore-resistant.
Your fireproof home may be littered with stuff that could easily burn. Check your gutters for dried leaves and other debris. If you have a chimney, make sure to clean it up every once in a while.
Trim the Trees
Overgrown trees can reach power lines and cause trouble. If you live near or under power lines, make sure to trim your trees. Take down any dead limbs so they won’t hit the lines if they fall.
Preparing for a Fire
A fireproof home is not all about fire-resistant materials or natural fireproofing methods. You play a big part, too.
If you or anyone in your home is a smoker, you need to be doubly careful. Designate a place where you can smoke. Make sure that area is free of flammable materials. Also, out your butts out entirely. Lots of residential fires start from cigarette butts. In fact, around 1,000 people die from cigarette fires.
A fireproof home is one that has no flammable materials just lying around. Clean up regularly making sure you throw away trash that catches fire easily.
Avoid doing barbecues during the dry season. The risks of a fire are higher at this time.
Smoke detectors will help keep you alive by alerting you of a possible fiery situation inside your home. Alarms are particularly important if a fire breaks out while you’re fast asleep.
Invest in some fire extinguishers. Place one in strategic areas in your home, especially in the kitchen where you keep your gas oven. Learn and teach everyone how to use it.
Take photos of your home. Grab your camera phone and take quick shots of the outside and inside of your fireproof home. You may need them for insurance purposes in case your home is not that fireproof after all.
Prevention is better than cure. Prevent burning down your home by not using fire inside. Avoid using candles. If you have to, make sure they’re far from flammable materials such as curtains.
What To Do When Fire is Approaching
Don’t be too confident even if you did everything to build a fireproof home. All the tips here can work together to control the fire but you still have to act quickly in the event that a bush fire is blazing near you.
Grab your hoses and wet down your roof and any wooden item surrounding your house. Even if the fire is still at a distance, the sparks and embers may find their way to your roof and burn your house down.
Keep your hose hooked up so you can easily fight fire when it comes too close. Fill up any container with water you can use to douse the fire.
Move equipment that uses fuel. This includes your lawnmower and your car. Move them inside the garage. Prepare for the possibility of an evacuation. Get your emergency kits and bug out bags ready. Turn on the water before you leave.
A fireproof home is not entirely fireproof. You can only do the necessary steps to make them as safe as possible with the help of fire retardants and fire-resistant materials. As mentioned, surviving a burning home will depend mainly on how much you have prepared for such an unfortunate scenario.
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