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Climate hazards: Wildfires

Climate-proof your home for Wildfires and smoke

Long-term resilience measures

Climate Ready Home Guide

This page provides non-emergency solutions to tackle climate change. If you are in an emergency, visit what to do during a fire.

Wildfires are happening more often with climate change. Calgary has experienced a significant increase in smoky conditions over the last 30 years. We will continue to experience more smoky conditions as climate change makes summers hotter, drier, and longer, with more potential for lightning storms. Regardless of where you live in Calgary, you have potential to be impacted by wildfire smoke.

Calgary is not as exposed to wildfire as northern and mountain towns. Some communities in Calgary are situated beside forested areas, grasslands, river valleys and parks that can have fire control problems. In the past we have experienced multiple grass fires, such as those on Nose Hill.

In an urban setting, wildfires can grow by catching trees, leaves, plants, dried grasses, and other fuels. These can spread to structures, including your home. Sparks and embers from a wildfire as far as two kilometres away can ignite materials and cause severe damage to your home.

Wildfire vulnerability


Consider the following questions. The more questions you answer as YES, the more vulnerable you and your property may be to wildfires:

Question Yes/No

Do you live beside dense, continuous forests or unmanaged grasslands?

This includes large urban parks such as Nose Hill, Confederation, Edworthy, and Fish Creek Provincial Park?

Yes/No

Do you have combustible materials and/or trees in close proximity to your home?

Yes/No

Do you have wooden shake roofing materials?

Yes/No

Do you live on the mid to upper portion or crest of a hill or slope?

(Fire moves faster uphill and may put your home at higher risk).

Yes/No

Is your exterior siding made of wood or vinyl?

Yes/No

Do you live in a home without an indoor air purifier?

Yes/No

How to reduce wildfire impacts


Some of the most impactful actions to reduce wildfire impacts to you and your home include:

Do

  • Consider your choice of materials based on fire resistance if renovating.
    • Choose Class A fire resistant roofing materials. Metal, clay or tile asphalt shingles all offer good fire protection if they are Class A rated.
    • Cement board, stucco, brick or metal are the best siding options for protection against wildfires.
  • Remove needles, leaves and other combustible materials from your roof, vents, and gutters.
  • Review your home insurance policy and ask your insurance provider what your policy covers in the case of fire damage.
  • Be aware of local fire bans.
  • Ensure your smoke and CO alarms are working and practice a home escape plan. Visit calgary.ca/fire for more information on fire safety and prevention.
Helicopter releasing water over a forest wildfire

FireSmart™ and associated Marks are registered trademarks of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).

For more information about protecting your home and property from wildfires, refer to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction’s Homeowner Guide: Protect Your Home From Wildfire and www.firesmartalberta.ca.

How to reduce smoke impacts


Before smoke events

Do

  • Download the WeatherCan app for the Air Quality Health Index and current and forecasted smoke conditions in Calgary.
  • Visit Canada.ca/wildfire-smoke for info about smoke and your health.
  • Purchase a portable air purifier with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that traps microscopic particles. Air purifiers can be plugged in and used in most rooms in your home.
  • Repair damaged windows and replace worn or missing weather stripping.
  • Consider adding an air purifier into your central air system if building a new home or replacing your HVAC system.

During smoke events

Do

  • Keep all windows and doors closed and turn off bathroom or kitchen fans to keep smoke from entering your home.
  • Check on family members and neighbours and help those that may be more susceptible to health issues.
  • Make sure A/C filters and furnace filters are clean, and replace them when necessary. For your furnace, choose a filter with a MERV 13 rating, or as high a rating as your system fan and filter slot can accommodate.
View of downtown Calgary covered in smoke from wildfires

Learn more about air quality in Calgary and how we measure and manage it.  

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Disclaimer:  The content of the Climate Ready Home Guide is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as technical advice with respect to any particular building(s) or construction project(s). The Climate Ready Home Guide does not recommend or endorse specific products or companies. All products and measures should be installed by a professional contractor, according to manufacturer specifications and following all City Bylaws and codes.

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