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Be Prepared for Wildfire Season: What to Do Before, During, and After

 

Be Prepared for Wildfire Season: What to Do Before, During, and After

Wildfires are on the rise across the west. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2020 saw an 18 percent increase over 2019 with 10.1 million acres burned compared to 4.7 million acres. 2021 is shaping up to be another severe year for wildfires. Drought conditions and a mid-year heatwave have resulted in wildfire season starting even earlier than in recent years with 475,000 acres burned already.

If you live in an area prone to this type of natural disaster, knowing what steps to take before, during, and after a wildfire could save lives and property.

 

Before

Actions taken before a wildfire threat becomes imminent are possibly the most important. If you’ve outlined a plan of action and gone over it with household members, you and your family will have a much better chance of staying safe.

  • Build emergency kits. In addition to typical emergency supplies, add items like respirator masks and fire extinguishers.

  • Learn your evacuation routes. Then practice driving them from home and other places you regularly visit, such as your workplace or kids’ schools.

  • Choose a meet-up location. Calling or texting can be difficult or impossible during a disaster. If family members may be evacuating from different places, agree beforehand on a safe spot to reunite.

  • Gather important possessions. If a fire is looming and it looks like you may be evacuated soon, gather irreplaceable items and important papers and put them in your vehicle beforehand.

  • Get your car ready. Keep your gas tank filled and leave your keys in the ignition. For a quick getaway, disconnect your garage door and leave it open with your car facing out. Or park your car outside facing in the direction you’ll be driving.

 

During

If you get the order to evacuate, do not delay. It’s tempting to try to pack more of your belongings or wait in case the fire gets contained, but it’s imperative that you leave as soon as you’re told to. That way, you have a better chance of getting to safety before traffic backs up or visibility becomes poor due to smoke.

If you’ve not yet been given the order to leave you can use the time to put more safeguards in place. Remove items that could feed a fire. Move indoor furniture away from windows and doors and place outdoor furniture and other combustible items inside the house or garage.

Clear anything burnable like dead brush, fallen trees, and dry leaves within 100 feet of your home. Dampen your space by using lawn sprinklers on the roof and near any above-ground fuel tanks. Also, wet down shrubs and bushes growing close to your home.

Keep smoke out. If the wildfires burning are not an immediate threat and you’re able to stay in your home, there’s still the danger of smoke inhalation to avoid. The particulates made up of toxic substances can travel great distances on the wind. The small particles can get into your lungs and even your bloodstream causing problems for your lungs and heart. The larger matter, while less dangerous, can irritate your eyes, nose and throat.

To protect you, your family, and any pets, keep doors and windows closed and run an air purifier. If possible, turn one room in your house into a clean room where the whole family can comfortably spend time. Keep the air cleaner by closing doors and windows to prevent smoke from entering and try to limit the number of times the door gets opened. Keep the room cool by using your AC unit (if you have one) or a couple of fans.

 

After

It’s understandable that you’ll be anxious to get back to your property, but always check with local officials first. While returning home after an evacuation can be a huge relief, it can also be stressful and difficult. Days or even weeks may have passed since you had to leave your place and there’s always the worry of how much damage you’re going to encounter.

Assuming your house is habitable, be careful upon reentering as fire flare-ups can happen. Check the roof and any hot spots for smoldering vegetation or embers for a few days. Check that the meter is working and turn off all appliances before turning on the main circuit breaker.

Watch for the weather. In addition to dealing with the after-effects of a wildfire on your home and community, you may also need to consider the danger of heavy rain. The plants, trees, and other groundcovers that normally hold soil in place will be gone or greatly diminished after a fire, which can result in flooding and heavy mud and debris flows.

As with wildfire threats, it pays to be prepared for inclement weather. Make a plan, pack emergency supplies in case of evacuation, and keep up with notifications from your local authority.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to think about your homeowners insurance. Call and have one of our helpful agents review your Wawanesa homeowners policy to make sure your home and belongings are adequately protected in the event of a wildfire.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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