Wildfires – What You Need to Know to be Prepared in Case of Emergency

Historically, wildfire season runs between May and October, although varying climate conditions can lengthen the duration. Various areas throughout the Southwestern United States can experience extreme droughts. Due to dry timber and debris, wildfires can develop and spread quickly, leaving little time to get somewhere safe.

If you live in an area that is vulnerable to wildfires, here are steps you can take now to protect yourself, your family and your pets.

Make your Home More Fire-Resistant

From keeping a clean and tidy yard to stocking up on firefighting tools, there are many ways you can help slow the spread of wildfires and make your home more fire-resistant. If you are constructing a new home or replacing your roof, make sure to avoid flammable materials and use components like asphalt shingles, clay tiles, or stone roofing. Clear your rain gutters and property of debris and flammable materials like dry leaves and branches often. Maintain firefighting tools on your property in case of an emergency including buckets, several garden hoses, fire extinguishers, rakes and shovels. Don’t forget to make sure your street number is highly visible on or around the exterior of your home. This will help first responders access your property in case of an emergency.

Make an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Create individual evacuation plans for your home, office, your child’s school or daycare, and for your pets. Plan multiple exit strategies in case roads are blocked or too dangerous to navigate. Make sure everyone in your household knows what to do. Have a “go bag” that contains essentials like N95 masks, first aid kit, three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water, battery operated radio, and medications. Don’t forget food and water for your pet, too! Be sure to follow updates and instructions from local authorities.

If you evacuate, give yourself time. Leave as early as possible. Shut off electricity, gas and water lines. Install the FEMA or Red Cross app on your mobile phone to get the latest information about public shelter locations.

If you can’t evacuate, find a room that can be sealed off from outside drafts in the event fire threatens your property. Call 911 and tell them your address to let them know fire is threatening your property. Know that first responders could be delayed by local conditions. Be sure to leave lights on to help first responders find you.

Keep Insurance Information on Hand

Confirm that all your insurance information has the most up-to-date contact info and home values and put printed copies in your “go bag.” Keep your social security cards, passports, and copies of your driver’s licenses, plus all other critical documents in a fireproof safe.

Stay Away Until Authorities Issue an All-Clear

Once it’s safe to return home, avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris and live embers. Continue to wear a face mask or respirator and protective clothing to prevent hot debris from burning you. Make sure to take pictures of property damage on your cell phone to share with your insurance adjuster. Finally, let your family and friends know you are OK.

For more information about wildfire readiness, visit National Fire Protection Association, Ready and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Do you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes or floods? Check out these articles:

What Water Damage Coverages Should You Consider?
Review These Four Insurance Coverages Before Seasonal Storms Begin
Be Ready for Hurricane Season with This Checklist

*This information is for general informational purposes only, should not be solely relied upon and is subject to change without notice..