Increase home safety by ensuring access and identification to ownership

In emergency situations, first responders need to easily identify location and access points to be able to provide service efficiently. Weather-related conditions particularly snow conditions can make identification difficult.

With winter season in full swing most of us aren’t worrying too much about wildfire threats to our homes. This is a good time to make some risk assessments, however, and begin the process of making your ownerships safer. Winter season poses its own set of emergency hazard risks which homeowners need to be aware of and correct if necessary.

In the event of an emergency situation, responders need to be able to find your residence and safely drive in, turn around and leave. Some simple checking and minimum effort can help ensure the needs of responders are satisfied.

Is your address or fire number easily viewable from the public road? Check to make sure it isn’t covered up by snow or buried under a pile from snow removal efforts. Occasionally, winter snow loads on tree limbs will obscure identification numbers and require attention. It’s also helpful if your neighboring property owner’s identification numbers are visible. Sequential numbers help identify when responders are getting close to, or have missed, a property.

Michigan State University Extension offers some suggestions for home owner groups or “communities” to work together through its Michigan Firewise program. By working together, homeowners can help one another become better prepared and safer while also better protecting their own properties and families.

Is your driveway entrance off the public road wide enough for emergency vehicles to safely turn into your ownership? The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests roadway approaches be at least 20 feet wide. Roads and driveways should be at least 20 feet wide to allow for two way passage or at least 10 feet wide with turnouts to allow for safe passage. The number of turnouts needed would depend on the length of the access drive. An area large enough for emergency vehicles to turn around near buildings and homes should be available and maintained year-round.

Should an emergency situation develop time is critical. Pre-planning for emergency events can help reduce loss, or in many instances, prevent an unfortunate situation from turning into a disaster.

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