Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wildfire season starts today

Today is the official start of wildfire season in Washington state (hat tip to Tom Banse with KUOW). While forecasters expect a “normal” fire season, it’s a good idea for people who live in areas prone to or near areas that are prone to wildfires to take some precautionary steps.

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources
  • If you live in an area that could be near a wildfire, you should 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.
  • 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.
  • If you live in an area that’s prone to wildfires, read some tips to prepare and protect your home.
  • 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.
  • 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.