Wildfires and your risk:

2017 was a year of Wildfires.  Fire is a risk for homeowners, renters, business owners and asset owners a like.  Fire plays an important role in the clearing of forests, deadwood, and allowing for younger trees to have their time in the sun.  But Wildfires also pose risk to people and property – it’s important to understand Wildfires and your risk.

Contributing factors to Wildfire include: rising temperatures, dry weather, more frequent lighting, and more intense winds.  It has been suggested by researchers that wildfires and the frequency of wildfires could increase by 50%.  The US dept of interior states that as many as 90% of wildfires in the United States are caused by human activities.  Campfires, burning of debris, cigarette disposal, Utility wires, and arson are examples of some of these human causes.  Other examples include lightning and lava.

The degree to which this wildfires are insured is greater than other natural disasters which include higher percentages of uninsured economic damage, this is because of the peril covered.  Damage caused by fire and smoke are covered under standard homeowners, renters and business owners policies – and under the comprehensive coverage on an auto policy.  This is important for areas hard hit in 2017 like Napa Valley.

Water or other damage caused by fire fighters to mitigate or extinguish the fire is also covered.

There are areas of the country and globe with higher exposure to wildfires.  It’s important for homeowners and business owners to understand their risk.  After understanding your risk, then you can apply the risk management steps – like prevention and safety plans.

If a wildfire breaks out in your area, your warning time could be five minutes or five days, depending on how the fire is spreading. Having a fire safety plan in place long before you receive a centralized warning will maximize the time you have to take action.

During times of chaos it is difficult to stay calm as Fight or flight mechanism takes over.  So it is important to consider regularly-scheduled fire safety drills as they are effective, not only at school, but at home, too.

Know where your children’s schools evacuate to, have an off-site family meeting spot prepared, and plan your evacuation routes to include alternate directions in case you encounter impassable roads. Maintain a printed list of family phone numbers, including that of an out-of-town family member who can serve as a central point of contact, in case cell phones or land lines are lost or destroyed.

As part of your emergency preparation, keep a list of your valuables and review your current homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure you have the right coverage.

Begin prepping to leave your home as soon as warnings arise, even if you haven’t been told to evacuate.

Make it easy to leave as soon as possible in case an evacuation notice is issued.

Other good resources on this topic include the following:

Please comment below with thoughts, questions, or advice regarding this topic.

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Arnold Smith

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