Fire Insurance is Imperative in a Changing Climate – Part 3

Give your household the best chance of surviving a wildfire by being ready to go and evacuating early. This includes going through pre-evacuation preparation steps (only if time allows) to increase your home’s defenses, as well as creating a Wildfire Action Plan for your family. Being ready to go also means knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped.

Remember: When immediate evacuation is necessary, follow these steps as soon as possible to get ready to GO!

  • Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
  • Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
  • Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
  • Locate your pets and take them with you.

Pre-Evacuation Preparation Steps

When an evacuation is anticipated, follow these checklists (if time allows) to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Home Evacuation Checklist – How to Prepare for Evacuation:

Inside the House

  • Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
  • Remove lightweight curtains.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
  • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
  • Shut off the air conditioning.

Outside the House

  • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
  • Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
  • Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
  • Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
  • Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
  • Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
  • Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.

Animals

  • Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.

 

POWER OUTAGE INFORMATION

Plan for Power Outages

Power outages may occur before and during the threat of a wildfire. It’s important to be prepared and know what actions to take when leaving your home. Along with the pre-evacuation preparation steps, these are a few ways to be ready in case of a power outage during these critical times.

  • Learn how to manually open your automatic garage doors or gates—this is extremely important!
  • Be familiar with your home’s utility boxes (electricity, water and gas).
  • Keep shoes near your bed in case you need to evacuate during the night.
  • Build a supply kit – and more than just a First Aid Kit. Include prescription medications and check the expiration dates. Include water, a battery-operated radio, flashlights and batteries (or a rechargeable flashlight), coolers or ice chests, and external rechargeable battery packs for your cellphones and include an extra charging cable. Also keep non-perishable food and a manual can-opener in your kit.
  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full in your vehicles.
  • Make your safety preparedness plan now and make sure your family knows each step and role they will play during this time.
  • Don’t forget your pets! Have an action plan ready for them, too, and know how they will be cared for.
  • If you have a power generator, be sure you know the safety guidelines of your model, including where to connect it, which electrical cords to use, and what the electrical load rating is. An improperly installed generator can electrocute you or an electric utility worker.
  • Keep your cellphone charged.
  • Keep a supply of bottled water.

During a Power Outage

If the power goes out, follow these steps:

Take Action Immediately When Wildfire Strikes

When immediate evacuation is necessary, follow these steps as soon as possible to get ready to GO!

Evacuation: What to Take and Do:

  1. Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
  2. Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
  3. Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
  4. Locate your pets and take them with you.

When to Evacuate

Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Don’t wait to be ordered by authorities to leave. Evacuating the forest fire area early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets them move more freely to do their job. In an intense wildfire, they will not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate!

  • Officials will determine the areas to be evacuated and escape routes to use depending upon the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc.
  • Law enforcement agencies are typically responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions promptly.
  • You will be advised of potential evacuations as early as possible. You must take the initiative to stay informed and aware. Listen to your radio/TV for announcements from law enforcement and emergency personnel.
  • You may be directed to temporary assembly areas to await transfer to a safe location.
  • The terms “Voluntary” and “Mandatory” are used to describe evacuation orders. However, local jurisdictions may use other terminology such as “Precautionary” and “Immediate Threat.” These terms are used to alert you to the significance of the danger. All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety.
  • Do not return to your home until fire officials determine it is safe. Notification that it is safe to return home will be given as soon as possible considering safety and accessibility.

When You Return Home:

  • Be alert for downed power lines and other hazards.
  • Check propane tanks, regulators, and lines before turning gas on.
  • Check your residence carefully for hidden embers or smoldering fires.

Wildland Fire Safety for Your Livestock and Pets

You’ve taken steps to keep your family and home fire safe. Don’t forget your pets and livestock. With some advance planning you can increase their chances of surviving a wildland fire.

Livestock

  • Clear defensible space around your barns, pastures and property just as you do your home.  PRC 4291 requires clearance around all structures on your property.
  • Plan ahead, know where you would evacuate the animals Contact your local fairgrounds. stockyards equestrian centers, friends etc. about their policies and ability to take livestock temporarily in an emergency.  Have several evacuation routes in mind.  If you don’t have your own truck and trailer, make arrangements with local companies or neighbors before disaster strikes.  Make sure your neighbor have your contact numbers (Cell phone, work, home, etc.).
  • Have vaccination/ medical records, registration papers and photographs of your animals (proof of ownership) and your Disaster Preparedness Kit.
  • If you must leave your animals, leave them in a preselected, cleared area. Leave enough hay for 48 to 72 hours. Do not rely on automatic watering systems. Power may be lost.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to start evacuating!

Livestock Disaster Preparedness Kit

  • Hay, feed and water for three days
  • Non-nylon leads and halters
  • First aid items
  • Wire cutters and a sharp knife
  • Hoof pick
  • Leg wraps
  • Shovel
  • Water buckets
  • Plastic trash barrel with a lid
  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights

During a wildland fire, local animal rescue organizations work with law enforcement and fire departments to rescue as many animals as they can. In battling a wildfire, firefighters will do what they can but they are not responsible for evacuating your livestock. Firefighters may cut fences or open gates to free trapped animals.

Pets

  • Plan ahead. Know where you will take or leave your pets. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, arrange in advance for a neighbor to check on or transport your pets. Make sure your neighbors have your contact numbers (cell phone, work, home, etc.). In the event of evacuation pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters – have an alternate prearranged location to take your animals.
  • Make sure your pets are always wearing properly fitted collars with personal identification, rabies and license tags.
  • Each animal should have it’s own pet carrier. Birds, rodents and reptiles should be transported in cages. Cover cages with a light sheet or cloth to minimize their fear.
  • Store vaccination/medical records, veterinary contact information, proof of ownership, a current photo, and a Disaster Preparedness Kit in one location.

Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit

  • Pet carrier for each pet
  • Two week supply of food and water
  • Non-spill food and water bowls
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Medications and dosing instructions
  • Car litter box and litter
  • Plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectants
  • Leashes/collars/harnesses
  • Blankets
  • Toys and treats
  • Newspaper

If You Must Leave Your Pet

  • If you must leave your pets, bring them indoors. Never leave pets chained outdoors!
  • Use a room with no windows and adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom, or other area that can be easily cleaned. Do not tie pets up!
  • Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU BECOME TRAPPED NEAR A WILDFIRE

While in your vehicle:

  • Stay calm.
  • Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation.
  • Close all vehicle windows and vents.
  • Cover yourself with wool blanket or jacket.
  • Lie on vehicle floor.
  • Use your cell phone to advise officials—call 911.

While on foot:

  • Stay calm.
  • Go to an area clear of vegetation, a ditch or depression on level ground if possible.
  • Lie face down, cover up your body.
  • Use your cell phone to advise officials—call 911.

While in your home:

  • Stay calm, keep your family together.
  • Call 911 and inform authorities of your location.
  • Fill sinks and tubs with cold water.
  • Keep doors and windows closed, but unlocked.
  • Stay inside your house.
  • Stay away from outside walls and windows.

Wildfire is Coming. Are You Ready?

The geography, weather patterns and number of Wildland Urban Interface communities in California make it a state particularly threatened by devastating wildfire. To help educate property owners and residents in areas most at risk, CAL FIRE has developed a communications program called “Ready, Set, Go!” that breaks down the actions needed to be ready for wildfire.

Get Prepared for Wildfire Before it Strikes by Following Ready, Set, Go!

  • Be Ready: Create and maintain defensible space and harden your home against flying embers.
  • Get Set: Prepare your family and home ahead of time for the possibility of having to evacuate.
  • Be Ready to GO!: Take the evacuation steps necessary to give your family and home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

Contact me for solutions

If you have any questions, or would like to explore fire insurance solutions with me, please call (530) 661-0666 or email me at aromo@vanbeurden.com.

 

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Andrea Romo

aromo@vanbeurden.com

Sales Associate | Woodland