Southern California residents know all too well the threat of wildfires. Prepare for these seasonal natural disasters just as you would an earthquake. And make a few repairs or updates to your property which may help resist wildfire damage.
Prepare Your Home & Family For Wildfire Season
- Clear all debris and flammable vegetation within 30 feet of your home – 50 to 100 feet if you live along canyons and hillsides.
- Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs
- Prune trees and shrubs regularly
- Establish a more drought-tolerant or drought-resistant garden
- Keep large trees spaced at least 10 feet apart
- Maintain a working irrigation system
- Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris
- Trim branches near the roof and chimney
- Store firewood and fuel tanks at least 50 feet away from home with 10 feet of clearance
Non-Flammable Exterior Building Material
- Install non-combustible roofing materials
- Finish exterior walls with fire resistant materials – stone, stucco or brick
- Use double paned or tempered glass for all exterior windows
Evacuation In the Event of a Wildfire
Familiarize yourself with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and design a family plan of your own. Keep emergency kits handy, ensure each room has an escape route, designate an emergency meeting place and follow municipal instructions from police or firemen. And don’t forget to make plans for you pets – including ID tags, carriers, and pet food.
If you have time to prepare for a wildfire evacuation:
- Place your emergency kit in the car
- Back your car into the garage (key in the ignition) and close the garage door
- Close all interior and exterior windows and doors
- Take down drapes and curtains
- For combustible roofs – wet down or turn on roof sprinklers
- Turn off the gas at the meter or tank
- Place a garden hose, bucket, shovel, fire extinguishers and water in an accessible place
Emergency Kits for Wildfires
Pack the following items:
- IDs, Social Security cards, Marriage and Birth Certificates (or Passports)
- Credit cards
- The Deed to Your Home
- Vehicle Titles
- Insurance policies – homeowners, health, life, auto, etc
- Photo inventory of your home
- Prescription medications (and refill scripts)
- Valuable jewelry, photographs, keepsakes, etc.
- One week’s worth of clothing (for each family member)
Review Your Homeowners Insurance
Document your current home inventory. Submit a copy to your insurance agent and keep a copy for yourself. This will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. Some companies will open special claims centers to assist their policyholders. Contact your agent or company if you need need to file a claim or request additional living expenses while you are out of the home.
If you haven’t already, review your homeowners insurance policy with your Atlas Plus insurance agent to ensure you have sufficient coverage for rebuilding your home after a wildfire or other catastrophe.
Taking these steps will give your family, pet and home the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire.