The Office of the Washington State Climatologist report for May says that while Western Washington was wetter than normal, the lack of low-elevation precipitation in Eastern Washington has warranted drought concerns in some areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Benton, Franklin, Chelan, Lincoln, and Walla Walla counties as natural disaster areas due to the dry conditions. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, a red flag warning has been issued for Chelan and Douglas counties, meaning there’s a higher chance of wildfires in those areas.
Here are some tips for people who live in areas that are prone to wildfire:
- Check your policy to make sure damage from wildfires is covered. Some policies include some coverage for emergency shelter, such as a hotel, if a home is uninhabitable.
- Review your policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Things like fine art, jewelry and computer equipment may have limited coverage under a standard policy. But you can buy special coverage that gives you more protection for those types of items, called a rider. Contact your insurance agent or broker to ask about supplemental policies.
- Catalog your home’s belongings in case you need to make an insurance claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a printable home inventory checklist or you can try free iPhone/iPad or Android apps.
- Read some tips to prepare and protect your home.
- You can help protect a rural home and limit the danger by clearing a natural fire break between your home and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has information on how to protect yourself and your home before, during and even after a wildfire.
- Have an emergency kit and a family communication plan. Know the location of your valuable papers, including insurance policy and contact information, mementos and anything you can't live without, so you can evacuate with them, if needed.
- Here's a list of recommended emergency supplies to keep on hand in the case of an evacuation.
- Don’t forget about planning for your pets. Ready.gov has tips for pet owners.
- The Washington Department of Natural Resources has the most recent fire information available on its website and through the @waDNR_fire Twitter feed.