Heat wave increases risk of forest fires ahead of July 4 weekend
As the current thermal dome shatters record temperatures in many western states, drought conditions are worsening, increasing the risk of wildfires in many areas.
Many Western States are now experiencing an exceptional situation drought conditions, the highest level of drought designated by the National Drought Mitigation Center, and residents across the country, and especially in states prone to forest fires, are urged to be extra careful when handling the drought. use of fireworks this July 4th.
This year, there are already several large fires active in the western states, and with the sweltering heat and dry conditions, the sparks from the fireworks can only worsen the wildfire conditions.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in a typical year, Independence Day fireworks cause two in five fires in the United States, more than any other cause of fire. ‘fire. Engaging in fire safety, taking the time to prevent and mitigate damage, and prepare financially by performing an insurance check are essential this time of year.
It is important that people obey state laws and take extra precautions to avoid causing preventable fires. Embers from a campfire or fireworks display can move around and start a fire a mile away, potentially devastating nearby homes and communities.
The NFPA reports that on average, fireworks start 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structural fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 exterior and other fires. Independence Day and July 5 can be some of the most fire-prone days of the year.
May the Fourth be a reminder to not only prevent forest fires, but also prepare homes and family finances for disasters.
Taking simple steps like preparing a home inventory, updating insurance, and cleaning up debris around the home can all make the difference if a forest fire breaks out. Across the country, insurers are ready to help homeowners and tenants in the event of a loss.
If your home is damaged by a wildfire, the first step is to contact your agent or insurance company and start the claims process. A phone call to your insurer puts you on the road to recovery.
Quick tips on how to prepare for finances during wildfire season:
- Read and understand your insurance policy. The typical home insurance policy covers damage caused by wind, fire and lightning. Comprehensive coverage under the auto insurance policy generally covers damage or destruction of a vehicle as a result of a fire.
- Review your insurance policy regularly with an insurance company or agent. Prevent underinsurance by having inflation protection coverage, extended replacement cost coverage, and building code upgrade coverage. Also consider increasing coverage for additional living expenses.
- If you have recently renovated and added a new addition to your property, be sure to increase the amount of protection to cover the improved materials or the expanded area.
- Talk about types of insurance policies and learn the difference between a replacement cost policy, which typically provides for the repair or replacement of damaged covered personal property, and an actual cash value policy that will only reimburse the depreciated value of the items. personal property covered item of property. Make sure your policy reflects the right amount of square footage and features.
- Create and maintain an inventory of personal items and photograph or save them for documentation and claims purposes. Be specific: Document the number of televisions, computers, sets of towels and sheets, and other items you own. The more details saved, the easier the recovery will be. Keep receipts for large purchases and record the age, current value, make, model and serial number of personal property. Keep the inventory and a copy of your insurance policy elsewhere.
Quick tips on preparing and protecting assets:
- Create 100 feet of defensible space around your home by removing brush, grass and dead shrubs. A defensible space can slow the spread of a fire and help keep firefighters safe.
- Clean off leaves, pine needles, and dirt that may have accumulated in gutters or on roofs.
- Cut any tree branches that hang over the top of the house or near the fireplace and create a 6-foot space between the ground and the tree branches.
- Consider landscaping with fire-resistant trees and shrubs, such as deciduous trees and slow-growing shrubs.
- Remove any wood piles or wooden playhouses against houses or structures.
- Keep fire extinguishers operational in kitchens.
- Install new batteries in fire and smoke detectors.
- Obey building codes and use fire resistant materials.
- Create a family plan and organize family fire drills. Make sure your family knows what action to take if a fire breaks out. Include plans for the pets.
- Identify valuables and family treasures that you can collect in no time.
Fire prevention tips:
- Do not throw lit cigarettes into areas of dry brush or out of a car.
- Do not light fireworks near dry brush; keep buckets of water nearby.
- Closely supervise children near fireworks.
- Make sure campfires are completely extinguished and sprayed with water and cannot re-ignite.
- Be careful with controlled burns; extreme weather conditions can make a normal burn uncontrollable.
- Be careful with mowing equipment on a dry brush – a spark can start a forest fire.
Visit www.readyforwildfire.org to learn how to prepare finances and property for wildfires.
Karen Collins is Assistant Vice President of the American P&C Insurance Association (APCIA), the leading national trade association for home, auto and business insurers. APCIA promotes and protects the viability of private competition for the benefit of consumers and insurers, with a heritage stretching back 150 years. APCIA members represent all sizes, structures and regions – protecting families, communities and businesses in the United States and around the world.
This article was originally published by APCIA and is republished here with permission.