Vacation rental wildfire risk: What you need to know

Planning an idyllic vacation with your friends might include booking a Malibu hillside vacation rental with ocean views or surrounded by pines at Lake Tahoe.

As you prepare for your trip, Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Superintendent Trevor Richmond wants wildfire safety to be on your checklist.

An analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that thousands of Airbnb rentals in California operate in areas with high levels of wildfire danger, as identified by Cal Fire.

An Airbnb spokesperson said: “During times of disaster, we send emergency notices to hosts and guests who may be affected.

The company offers home safety seminars for Airbnb hosts. These workshops are intended to “encourage hosts to think carefully about their responsibilities and how to be a responsible host, including practicing fire safety by having smoke alarms in place. respond to government safety guidelines and regulations for their region, etc,” the spokesperson said.

However, Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms don’t regularly notify guests when a rental is in a bushfire zone, so you’ll have to notify yourself.

Richmond says short-term renters need to know how to minimize danger even when they’re on vacation mode.

Firefighters are “striking hard from the air; we will be hit hard from the ground. We will do everything we can to slow the fires,” said Richmond. “But we rely on the community’s help to be attentive, smart, and out of the area quickly.”

So here’s how you can research the possibility of disaster and what to do if it happens the next time you rent a vacation home.

Your rental?

To determine if a vacation rental is in a fire hazard area, check the property’s location on the Cal Fire state fire hazard zone map.

The State Fire Sheriff’s Office created a fire severity area map in 2007. It identifies the severity of the fire hazard in each area. One important factor is how easily homes in the wilderness are prone to fires.

Enter an address or city into Cal Fire’s map to see if the property is in a very high, high, or medium area.

On the Airbnb website, the address of a listing is usually not revealed until the booking is confirmed. But the general location of a list is shared on the map, so you can use that.

At your rental vacation

When you arrive, look around outside and note if palm trees or other plants are near the house or hanging from the roof or chimney. Grass and turf should not be more than three inches tall. That doesn’t mean you need to start mowing or cleaning your brush during your vacation, but your awareness can help if a fire breaks out nearby.

And if so, Richmond says, move flammable yard furniture into the garage or away from the house. If the homeowner keeps a pile of firewood next to the house, keep it away.

In general, ask yourself if anything near the building is flammable. If so, take it as far as possible.

“A fire will not distinguish between the Manzanita tree or the grass and yard furniture,” says Richmond. “If it burns, it will burn.”

When do forest fires happen?

Last year, the Times reported that record-drying levels of vegetation during the summer months were a common factor in many of 2021’s biggest fires. Dry vegetation, caused by a prolonged drought and short-term heat waves, which are easy causes for fires to break out and spread at any time of the year.

But especially September, October, and November are months when brushes and other fuels are exhausted after a hot summer and Santa Anas or other hot, dry winds allow fires to flare out of reach. control.

“Technically we don’t have a fire season because broom fires can break out at any time, but we do have certain times of the year where [we have a] Richmond said.

Vacation home renters should be wary of a combination of hot, dry, and windy weather.

Update information and receive notifications

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can download the app and sign up for alerts and evacuation orders. Note that the warning means you should be ready to evacuate and the command means to leave immediately. Here are a few:

  • LA County Warning: Register your phone number or email address on the county website to receive notifications of countywide emergencies or disasters from the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Notice to LA: Register your phone number or email through the city of LA’s website to receive public health announcements, evacuation orders, and early warnings by phone, email, or text message.
  • Nixle: Sign up to receive text and phone calls from local law enforcement agencies throughout LA County.
  • Pay attention to local news to stay up to date, says Richmond. The LA Times maintains a regularly updated map of the California fires.

According to the Times analysis, some cities have regulations that require Airbnb hosts to warn guests about the potential for wildfires or other safety concerns.

For example, the Los Angeles home-sharing ordinance requires homeowners whose listings are in the highest fire hazard areas to post on their listings and on their website that outdoor smoking is prohibited. Another example is Malibu, where landlords are required to post a code of conduct in rental units, informing guests of their location near the city’s fire danger zone, the evacuation zone of the listing. and city website for evacuation information.

If an evacuation is necessary, the county and city where you live will have evacuation plans or safety procedures in place. For example, Los Angeles County activates the LA County emergency website when two or more county departments are responding to an emergency that threatens life, property, or the environment. The site features evacuations, human shelters, animal shelters, health warnings, road closures, and media releases. You can also access evacuation information for Los Angeles County by dialing 211.

During an evacuation, anticipate traffic and give yourself enough time to get out.

Richmond said the 1991 Oakland Hills fire was an example of people waiting so long to flee. 25 people died in that fire – at the time the worst in California history. In one example, Richmond said, someone stopped her car and got out to walk, leaving people behind her with no way to get down the hill.

About Times Utility Press Group

This article is from The Times Gadget Press Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and helps make decisions. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles – including current Times subscribers and diverse communities that have not previously met their needs under our coverage.

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