Fire Insurance is Imperative in a Changing Climate – Part 2
Get Set …
Before wildfire strikes, it’s important to GET SET and prepare yourself, your family, and your home for the possibility of evacuation.
There are three main preparation actions that should be completed and familiar to all members of your household long in advance of a wildfire.
3 Steps to Getting Set:
- Create a Wildfire Action Plan that includes evacuation planning for your home, family and pets.
- Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person in your household.
- Fill-out a Family Communication Plan that includes important evacuation and contact information.
CREATE A WILDFIRE ACTION PLAN
Prepare a Wildfire Action Plan and make sure all members of your household are familiar with it well in advance of a wildfire. Use the checklist below to help create your plan. Each family’s plan will be different, depending on a variety of issues, needs, and situations.
Your Wildfire Action Plan Checklist
Create an evacuation plan that includes:
- A designated emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area.
- Several different escape routes from your home and community. Practice these often so everyone in your family is familiar in case of emergency.
- Have an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock.
- A Family Communication Plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. (It is easier to call or message one person and let them contact others than to try and call everyone when phone, cell, and internet systems can be overloaded or limited during a disaster.)
- Have fire extinguishers on hand and train your family how to use them (check expiration dates regularly).
- Ensure that your family knows where your gas, electric, and water main shut-off controls are located and how to safely shut them down in an emergency.
- Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person, as recommended by the American Red Cross. (See next section for details.)
- Maintain a list of emergency contact numbers posted near your phone and in your emergency supply kit.
- Keep an extra Emergency Supply Kit in your car in case you cannot get to your home because of fire or other emergency.
- Have a portable radio or scanner so you can stay updated on the fire.
- Tell your neighbors about Ready, Set, Go! and your Wildfire Action Plan.
PREPARE YOUR FAMILY
How to Prepare to Evacuate from a Wildfire
Evacuation plans for families with young children should include helping toddlers understand how to quickly respond in case of fire, and how adults can escape with babies. Prepare ahead of time by practicing your family’s fire escape plan, and what to do to be safe when there is a wildfire nearby.
It is important to talk to toddlers and small children at a level that they understand and that does not frighten. Here are a few resources that offer guides and tips for families with young children about fire safety and preparing for a disaster:
A Parent’s Guide to Fire Safety for Babies and Toddlers : The U.S. Fire Administration’s information site for parents and caregivers to help prevent fire death of young children.
Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies : Sesame Workshop campaign with tips, activities, and other easy tools to help the whole family prepare for emergencies.
Ready.gov Kids: FEMA’s site for older kids to prepare and plan for a disaster. Includes safety steps, tips, and games to help children learn about and be ready for an emergency.
Smokey Kids : U.S. Forest Service’s interactive Smokey Bear site with games, information and resources on how to prevent forest fires.
Preparing Seniors and Disabled Family Members
Seniors and people with disabilities also need special consideration when preparing for a disaster. Below are several resources that help individuals and families with special needs plan and prepare for an event such as a wildfire.
Special Populations Fire-Safe Checklist : U.S. Fire Administration’s fire safety guide for individuals with special needs to help them protect themselves and their home from fire.
Disaster Preparedness for Senior by Seniors: The American Red Cross booklet designed by and for older adults to prepare them for a sudden emergency.
Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities: American Red Cross Disaster Services booklet with information and resources to help people with physical, visual, auditory, or cognitive disabilities design a personal disaster plan.
Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations : Inclusive Preparedness Center website with information and resources for emergency planning.
Disability.gov Personal Preparedness Guide : Resource site for people with disabilities that gives information on necessary supplies, evacuation procedures and how to assist pets and service animals in the event of a disaster.
ASSEMBLE AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT
Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate. Plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Each person should have a readily accessible emergency supply kit. Backpacks work great for storing these items (except food and water) and are quick to grab. Storing food and water in a tub or chest on wheels will make it easier to transport. Keep it light enough to be able to lift it into your car.
Emergency Supply Kit Checklist
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person.
- Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Prescriptions or special medications
- Change of clothing
- Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
- An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
- First aid kit
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Sanitation supplies
- Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
- Don’t forget pet food and water!
Items to take if time allows:
- Easily carried valuables
- Family photos and other irreplaceable items
- Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
- Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.
- Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.
ARE YOU FINANCIALLY PREPARED FOR A WILDFIRE?
Protect What Is Important To You—Get Your Finances And Property Ready For Wildfires
Your home is generally your largest asset. Protect it. Insurance is the critical back-up plan enabling you to rebuild your home after a wildfire. Federal catastrophe grants are not enough to rebuild a home. Make sure your family’s financial safety net is in place, in case disaster strikes.
TIP 1: Conduct an Annual Insurance Check Up
Call your agent or insurance company annually to discuss your policy limits and coverage. Make sure your policy reflects the correct square footage and features in your home. Consider purchasing building code upgrade coverage.
TIP 2: Know What Your Policy Covers
The details matter. Understand if you have a replacement cost policy that pays to replace all your items at current market price or an actual cash value policy that takes depreciation into account and pays less for aged items.
TIP 3: Update Your Policy to Cover Home Improvements
If you make home improvements, be sure to call your agent or company to update your coverage. Make sure your insurer knows about the changes, so the new countertops, floors or room are covered if you must rebuild.
TIP 4: Maintain Insurance
If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain homeowner insurance. Without insurance, do you have the money to rebuild your home? Check with loved ones whose homes are paid off to be sure they continue to carry homeowner insurance.
TIP 5: Get Renters Insurance
Renters can lose everything in a fire and be left to start over. Many insurers bundle renters insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy at affordable prices.
Make A Home Inventory
Recovery is easier if you have an accurate home inventory. Document the contents of your home before a fire occurs. Use your smartphone to video your belongings. Keep your inventory & photos outside home or in the cloud.
TIP 1: Video or photograph each room of your home.
Remember to document drawers and closets.
TIP 2: Describe your home’s contents in your video.
Mention the price you paid, where and when you bought the item.
TIP 3: Remember to note important or expensive items.
Video your electronics, appliances, sports equipment, TVs, computers, tablets.
TIP 4: Save receipts for major purchases.
Store key documents in the cloud or fireproof case. Keep home inventory offsite or in the cloud.
TIP 5: Video the Garage
Don’t forget to video or photograph what is inside your garage.
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.
If you have any questions, or would like to explore fire insurance solutions with me, please call (530) 661-0666 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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