It looks like maybe, just maybe, spring 2016 is upon us and with it, an increased risk of wildfires thanks to our unseasonably dry winter. With fire bans already in place across the province, we wanted to give you some tips on how to reduce and prevent the risk of damage to your home from wildfires.
- Surround your home with a defensible space. Clear away trees, brush, and firewood that could add fuel to a fire. Use driveways, lawns and gravel to create a fuel break wherever possible. Consider “Firesmart” landscaping options, such as planting more fire-resilient trees to expand your building’s defensible space.
- Do not store gas/propane tanks under decks or porches.
- Assess your roof. Clear away overhanging trees and combustible debris such as pine needles and other vegetation that could act as fuel for airborne sparks and embers. Keep all eaves troughs clear of dry material. If a roof is scheduled for replacement, consider installing roofing material, such as asphalt or ceramic, which are more resilient to fire and embers compared to cedar shake tiles.
- Be visible in an emergency. Ensure emergency crews can see the address clearly from the road. Be a community advocate for visible, fireproof street signs.
- Be “Firesmart” inside the home. Keep one or more fire extinguishers charged and easily accessible. Develop a fire safety plan which includes a home fire drill, and be ready at all times to put the plan into action.
- Don’t let occasional-use vehicles sit uninsured. It’s smart to keep recreational and other occasional-use vehicles (e.g. boats, RVs, collectible cars) insured at all times. Not only so they can be moved quickly in a wildfire evacuation, but to also protect them against year-round threats such as hail, arson or vandalism.
- Prepare for the worst. Keep an itemized list of belongings in a safe place, such as a safe or deposit box. Take photos or videos of possessions such as jewelry, electronics and furniture. Don’t forget to document landscaping items such as trees, shrubs and plants.
- Ensure your home insurance policy is up-to-date. Contact your insurance advisor to learn precisely what your policy covers. Ensure your belongings are adequately insured and that your policy reflects any significant renovations and other improvements made to your home. need to speak to an advisor? Contact us at 1-800-615-5897.
For residents in areas with moderate to high fire danger ratings or on evacuation alert
- If it’s safe, move valuables and irreplaceable items to a safe location. Move additional vehicles (such as RVs, boats, antique cars) to a safe location. Basic liability insurance may be obtained to move vehicles, but coverage for physical damage may not be currently available in fire-affected areas. Contact your insurance advisor for details.
- Locate vital documents (e.g. passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) and other critical items such as prescription medication. Keep them handy and ready to move if evacuated.
- Keep all receipts for extraordinary living expenses incurred due to evacuation (e.g. accommodation, meals, toiletries, etc.). Most home insurance policies will cover a certain amount of living expenses for those forced to evacuate their homes. As with any fire-related claim, the base policy deductible applies to additional living expenses.
Have questions? Need to update your policy?