How to protect your home and property


  • Remove branches overhanging your roof.
  • Remove any branches within 10 feet from your chimney.
  • Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
  • Install roofs that are metal or asphalt.
  • Cover your chimney with 1/2 inch or smaller mesh.


  • Use fire resistant building materials.
  • Enclose the underside of decks and open foundations with fire resistant materials or metal screen.
  • Fully enclose crawl space with fire resistant materials or metal screen.
  • Install only dual-paned or triple-paned windows.


  • Create a “defensible space” by removing all flammable vegetation at least 30 feet from all structures and replacing it with fire resistant plants.
  • On steep slopes, remove all flammable vegetation out to 100 feet or more.
  • Space native trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart.
  • For trees taller than 18 feet, prune lower branches within 6 feet of the ground.
  • Choose ornamental landscaping plants that are fire resistant.
  • Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas.
  • Maintain all plants by regularly removing dead branches, leaves, and needles.


  • Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures and clear away flammable vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles.
  • Locate LPG tanks (butane and propane) at least 30 feet from any structure and surround them with 10 feet of clearance.
  • Remove all stacks of construction materials, pine needles, leaves, and other debris from your yard.
  • Contact your local fire department to see if open burning is allowed in the area: if so, obtain a burning permit.
  • Where barrels are allowed, clear flammable materials at least 10 feet around the barrel; cover the open top with a nonflammable screen with mesh no larger than 1/4 inch.


  • Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood.
  • Construct roads that allow two-way traffic.
  • Design road width, grade, and curves to allow access for large emergency vehicles.
  • Construct driveways to allow large emergency equipment to reach your house.
  • Desing bridges to carry heavy emergency vehicles, including bulldozers carried on large trucks.
  • Post clear road signs to show traffice restrictions, such as dead-end roads and weight and height limitations.
  • Make sure dead-end roads and driveways have turnaround areas wide enough for emergency vehicles.
  • Construct turnouts on one-way roads.
  • Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and 5 feet from driveways.
  • Cut back overhanging tree branches above roads.
  • Know your 911 address as designated by Cook County. Be sure your “blue sign” address is clearly visible. Make sure that your street name and house number are not duplicated in the county.
  • Post your house address at the beginning of your driveway or on your house if it is easily visible from the road.


  • Designate an emergency meeting place outside your home.
  • Practice emergency exit drills regularly.
  • Make sure that electric service lines, fuse boxes, and circuit breaker panels are installed and maintained as prescribed by code.
  • Contact qualified individuals to perform electrical maintenance and repairs.
  • Consider installing a residential sprinkler system.