Wildfires and Preparedness

With summer’s warm weather and longer days also comes the increased danger of wildfires that can threaten hundreds of homes. This past June, the state of Colorado experienced some of its worst fires in history with more than 200 homes destroyed and at least two deaths. While you may not be able to absolutely protect your home from a wildfire, you can be prepared so that in the event of such a fire, you’ll have an easier time dealing with its aftermath. Ensure you have your documentation prepared, even before an evacuation order is given.

Review your home insurance policy and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you have adequate coverage should fire damage or destroy your home. Keep in mind that you will not be able to take all your personal possessions with you when evacuating, so it’s likely that a fire that damages your house will also destroy its contents. For this reason, make sure you have adequate limits for both the dwelling and the contents. You also need to have adequate limits for additional living expense coverage on your home insurance policy, as it may be quite some time before you are able to move back into your home.

The National Fire Protection Association maintains a website that is devoted to helping homeowners protect their property and loved ones from the dangers of wildfires. According to Firewise, one of the main things you can do to protect your home from wildfires is to make sure your roof is constructed of nonflammable materials. Because flying embers help spread fire, making sure your roof isn’t susceptible to these agents of fire can prevent your house from igniting. The construction of your roof is also an important consideration in your home insurance company’s evaluation of your risk when underwriting your home insurance policy.

After you have taken all the precautionary measures to protect your home from a wildfire, you should consider what next steps are necessary to prepare for the prospect of being evacuated. If you live in a fire-prone area, you should always be ready for the possibility of having to leave your home with very little notice. Prepare your to-do list in advance when you are able to think clearly without the pressure of a fire and evacuation order looming. If you have items that you cannot bear to part with, make sure you know where they are located in your home and that they can be easily rounded up prior to leaving.

While your evacuation checklist may include all your important documents such as your insurance policy, it’s a good idea to keep duplicate copies in an off-site location. If something happens to your home while you are away, you may not be able to return to retrieve your documents. Consider leaving a copy in a safe deposit box, at your office, or with a relative. In addition, it’s easy and potentially helpful to scan documents and have them stored on a small thumb drive that is easily transportable. Having access to this information in the aftermath of a fire is one less thing to cause stress and worry in a very stressful situation.

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