How To Prepare for California Wildfires
If you’ve spent any time in California, then you know that seasonal fires are no joke. They burn over a million hectares of land per year and destroy thousands of structures. While forest fires aren’t always avoidable, there are still steps that you can take to protect yourself. You want to make it through this season in one piece, so check out this quick guide on how to stay safe when California’s wildfires are blazing.
What Can I Do To Protect My Home Before a Wildfire?
Renovate With Flame-Resistant Materials
It only takes a single ember to burn your house down. To reduce the risk of fire damage, you should use as many flame-retardant materials in your home as possible. Common fireproofing renovations include adding a non-combustible roof, applying stucco to exterior walls, and installing new windows with tempered glass.
Remove Flammable Debris From Your Property
Branches, dead leaves, and other common law debris are extremely flammable. A forest fire can strike at any time, so you shouldn’t wait until tomorrow to clear your landscape of flammable waste. Since gutters quickly accumulate dead leaves and other plant material, you must remember to regularly clean them to keep your home safe.
Install Smoke Detectors
A forest fire might creep towards your home in the middle of the night. Without functioning smoke detectors, you may not wake up in time to escape an approaching fire. Smoke alarms should be in every bedroom, in hallways outside of sleeping areas, and on every level of your home. Don’t forget to check all of your smoke alarms monthly. If something is wrong with one of your alarms, then you need to deal with it immediately.
Create an Evacuation Plan
You don’t want to panic or shuffle around aimlessly in an emergency. Your evacuation should be quick and organized, so you need to make a forest fire evacuation plan and ensure that all of the members of your household understand what to do. Your evacuation plan should include a convenient meeting place somewhere on your property, information about where to get the latest emergency updates, a destination, and someone to check in with before you leave.
Put Together an Emergency Supply Kit
There won’t be enough time to gather your things when it’s time to evacuate. For this reason, it’s extremely important to have an emergency supply kit ready to go. At the very least, your emergency supply kit should contain medications, non-perishable food items, clothes, important documents, first aid supplies, and face coverings to protect everyone’s lungs from soot and ash.
What Should I Do During a Wildfire?
Shut Off Gas and Water
High temperatures can cause your pipes to burst, and gas is extremely flammable. You don’t want your home to flood or burn down, so you need to cut off your gas supply as soon as you learn about an approaching fire. Your water shutoff valve and gas lever should be somewhere close to your water heater. If your main water valve is under the crawlspace, then you should have a plumber install a new valve in a more accessible part of your home.
Pay Attention to Fire Alerts
You need the latest information when a fire is approaching, so it’s important to stay tuned to your area’s official emergency information station. Emergency alert stations vary by region, so you should look for this information on your municipality’s website. Once you know where to receive updates, you should make sure that you have a portable radio with extra batteries in an accessible place.
Prepare Your Vehicle and Emergency Supplies
You need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, so you should park your vehicle with the front pointed towards the direction of escape. Emergency supplies should be in an accessible area close to one of your main entrances. Make sure to pack your car with emergency supplies as soon as you hear a fire alert.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Everybody must be accounted for in an evacuation situation. You’ll want emergency personnel to arrive as quickly as possible if you get lost or stranded during an evacuation. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have reception on your phone, so you must let someone know where you’re going before you evacuate. That way, someone will know to call emergency services if you don’t arrive at your destination on time.
What Should I Do if My Insurance Company Doesn’t Cover Damages?
You expect coverage if your house burns down. If you inhale soot or ash, then it’s only right for your health insurance company to pay the bill. However, insurance companies often do everything in their power to avoid fulfilling their obligations, so you may not receive enough compensation to cover your damages. Without insurance coverage, you might have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for healthcare and new housing. Most people can’t afford such massive expenses. Therefore, if you’re having problems with your insurance companies, then you need to hire a qualified attorney to get a fair settlement.
Being Prepared Can Save Your Life
Wildfires are dangerous, but you can reduce the risk of fire damage by preparing your home, planning, and adopting the right mindset. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, fire may still engulf your home, and your insurers may not cover you. You shouldn’t have to fight your insurance companies alone if they refuse to help, so call a reliable attorney today to explore your options.