Every year house fires affect hundreds of thousands of Americans, destroying homes and wreaking havoc on the lives of the victims. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2013 alone, there were around 369,500 house fires in the United States resulting in a reported loss of $6.8 billion in direct property damages.

The roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of the house especially because fire can spread really quickly if the roof isn’t made of fire-resistant materials.

If you are looking to improve the safety of your home, here are some tips to help you fireproof your roof:

Check the fire-ratings of your roofing materials. In fire-prone locations, building codes often require that you use fire-resistant materials in roof construction to protect the occupants of the building. The International Business Code classifies roof assemblies and coverings based on how far fire will spread when it comes in contact with the roofing materials. In order to receive a classification of an A, B, or C rating, the maximum fire spread allowed for roof assemblies is between roughly 20 to 40 square feet. Class A roofing materials are the most fire-resistant with Class B and Class C ratings designating less fire-prone qualities. Typically, most fiberglass roofing materials, like that of the Owens Corning Platinum system, have Class A ratings, while many organic roofing materials like treated wood have Class C fire ratings.

Keep tree branches away from your roof. Not only will tree branches scratch your roof, The National Roofing Contractors Association, or NRCA,  urges homeowners to keep tree branches trimmed and off of the roof because in the event of a fire, the branches can spread the flames to other houses in the nearby vicinity.

Remove debris from your roof. Because embers are often one of the leading causes of home ignition, it is important to clean the roof to avoid the risk of having the embers come in contact with debris which will increase the damage to the house.

Repair cracks in your roof. The wind can blow embers and brands into the attic through the openings and cracks on the roof. You can get firestops installed into specific parts of your roof’s internal structure, which will serve as a barrier preventing fire from passing from one portion of the roof to other parts.

Inspect your roof for signs of aging. Be aware that over time, as certain materials, such as wood shake and shingle roofs, weather and are exposed to the elements, they may become more susceptible to fire.

For help fireproofing your roof, contact a licensed contractor, such as AROCON Roofing and Construction to discuss personalized steps that you can take to make your home a safe place for you and your loved ones.