Each year on average, there are 1,600 wildfires in BC. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, there are a number of steps you can take to effectively prepare and protect your family and your home. Here are some tips from Leah Wood, our in-house Risk Manager and Loss Prevention Specialist:
HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
- Public safety is the foremost priority. All wildfire management activities must mirror this commitment to community health and wellbeing.
- Recognize warnings and alerts and pay attention to air quality warnings.
- Make an emergency plan and ensure everyone in your household knows and understands what to do if you need to quickly evacuate. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with your household andpets, and identify where you will go.
- Review important documents, including insurance policies, and make sure they are all up to date.
- Gather enough supplies for your household and pets, including medication, disinfectants and masks in your go bag or car trunk. If you already have an N95 mask, use this to protect yourself from smoke inhalation.
- Do not return home until authorities say it safe to do so.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME
- Regularly mow your grass and keep your roof and gutters clean.
- Inspect chimneys at least twice a yearand clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order.
- Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs, and clear out all flammable vegetation.
- Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.
- Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
- Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
- Ensure that patio furniture is either made of noncombustible material such as metal or is at least 30 feet away from the building.
- It is recommended that unit owners take pictures of their home and contents to have on file in case of loss.
Keep your property lean and green to help protect your family and home. Tree and bush clearing is an important way to create defensible space between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area surrounding it. Proper defensible space provides firefighters a safe area to work in to defend your home.