Wildfires – What to Do When You’re in the Danger Zone

If you find yourself in the path of a wildfire like the horrible ones raging in California right now, there are several things you can do to try to lessen the damage to your property.

Before a Fire Starts

  • Make absolutely certain your Insurance policies do the following:
    • Covers wildfire damage to your home/building, contents
    • Covers additional living expenses (including hotel rooms and food)
    • Covers physical damage to your vehicle as a result of fire damage (auto policy)
  • Clear combustible materials from within 30 feet of the building
  • Cut down any low-hanging tree limbs (15 feet or closer to the ground)
  • Remove any vines or vegetation growing on the building
  • Put any flammable lawn furniture in storage
  • Create fuel breaks within 100-30 feet of the building
  • Plant trees far enough apart that their branches do not touch (or trim them if they do)
  • Create an emergency escape plan (talk to your town officials to learn about evacuation routes)
  • Pack an emergency kit (bedding, first aid, flashlights, water, clothes, etc.)

During a Fire

  • Listen to emergency channels (radio and/or TV) to keep abreast of the status and location of the fire line
  • Pack your emergency supplies into your car
  • If you have time:
    • Move furniture away from the walls and take down curtains
    • Close all windows and doors
    • Shut off natural gas at its source
    • Turn on all property lights (this will make it easier for firefighters to see your property through the smoke)
  • Evacuate safely! Stay calm and follow the planned evacuation routes and procedures

After the Fire

  • Only go back when authorities say it is safe to do so (trying to return early will only endanger you and your potential rescuers)
  • Document all damage (photos and videos will be extremely helpful during the claim process)
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