How to keep the outside of your home fire-safe

There are 72,000 communities in the United States now at risk from wildfires. Many of those areas are right here in South Carolina and as those numbers grow, so does the pressure on first responders.

That's why Horry County Fire Rescue officials are urging you to do some spring cleaning now to make your home fire safe.

Fire crews say it's important to pay extra attention to the outside of your home. So, on Monday we tagged along with firefighters Zach Stevens and Dart Prince to find out how you can keep your home fire safe.

"Anyone's house that backs up onto a wood line, they have a greater chance of their house accidentally getting set on fire by a wildfire so they need to create a buffer zone between the woodlands and their house," Lieutenant Prince explained.

Stevens took us to home, where we started with cleaning out his gutters.

"We can sweep that off and clean the gutters off so it won't dry out and be a fuel source for any embers that might land on the roof because the wind will pick embers up and move them to other places," Prince explained, as he removed vegetative debris from one section.

While you're up on that roof, Prince added that you also want to make sure to cut any tree limbs down that are close to your home in case they should catch fire. After cleaning out the gutters, it was time for some yard work.

"Certain things like pine straw and grass clipping and things like that that aren't cleaned up, they present more of a danger," Stevens explained, adding that all of this debris acts as fuel for fires. "If it gets out of control, it can climb up the siding."

If you are planning on burning any of that debris, Stevens said to make sure you always have a water source available. These are all simple steps that both Stevens and Prince say could save your life.

"It could make us not put ourselves in danger as much and it can save the community, putting themselves out of harm's way," Stevens explained.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission also says to make sure you cover exterior attic vents to help keep sparks out. They also remind you to inspect shingles and roof tiles and replace or repair any that expose any sub-roofing.