Preparing for Wildfire

Posted on August 10, 2023 at 04:33 PM

Now is the time to prepare, reduce wildfire risk for your home & family

Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season ever recorded, and the recent wildfires in Maui are a shocking reminder that taking steps now to protect your family and your property from wildfire damage is more important than ever. 

If getting started on preparing your property and creating an emergency plan feels too overwhelming, help is available through the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Wildfire Ready Neighbors program, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Firewise Toolkit.

Fortunately, wildfire damage is a covered peril under standard Homeowners, Renters and Business Owners insurance policies. Even if you don't think you life in a high-risk area, it's wise to be prepared - especially financially - for a large-scale fire event. 

Many insurance companies offer tips and assistance to help property owners learn ways to make their homes and businesses fire-resistant, so it’s a good idea to go online or call your agent or company to find out more.

Now is the time to take action to protect your family, home and business from wildfire. NW Insurance Council, IBHS and the NFPA offer the following tips to help get you started:

Planning/Preparation Tips:

  • Make a plan - Before an emergency, create a family evacuation plan and consider multiple routes out of your home and neighborhood in case the most obvious routes are blocked by fire or traffic.
  • What’s in your “Go Bag?” – Make a list for all family members of what to pack in a “go bag” in case of an unexpected or urgent evacuation order. In addition to clothes, include things like prescription medicines, important paperwork (like your insurance policy), phone/laptop chargers, your pet’s needs and even toilet paper.
  • Review your insurance policy – Before disaster strikes, contact your insurance agent or your insurance company to review your coverage. As building costs increase, some people whose policies don’t include escalating coverage have found out too late that they are “underinsured.” You want to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs if the worst happens. Ask your agent or company: How much replacement cost coverage do you have? How much does your policy provide for living expenses while you’re not able to access your home? What percentage of your policy goes toward replacing your lost personal possessions?
  • Renters Insurance – If you rent, you also need to protect your belongings from wildfire. Consider a Renters Insurance policy for your personal possessions.
  • Maintain a complete home inventory – Keep copies of contracts and receipts of your personal possessions in a safe place outside of your home. Take pictures or video of your belongings with your smartphone. Record major new   purchases you make for your home.

Property protection tips:

  • Defensible Spacing – Clear brush 30 to 100 feet from your home. Keep your yard well-groomed and watered and remove old stumps and weak or diseased trees from your property. Keep flammable materials at least 30 feet away from the home.
  • Maintain your rooftop and decks – The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home in a wildfire, due to drifting embers and sparks (a common cause of home ignition in wildfires). Routinely remove debris from the roof and gutters and around skylights.
  • Home interior precautions – Consider installing a home sprinkler system if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Replace batteries in smoke detectors in every room of your home at least twice each year.

For more information about insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

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