Right now, many large fires are burning in California, Oregon and Washington. In a recently published CBS News article entitled "Fires and Extreme Weather Conditions: It's Not a Coincidence, It's Climate Change," California has seen a record 3.3 million acres burn so far this year – about five times normal for an entire year. season (usually July through November) and ten times the normal year to date. What is crazy is that it is estimated that California itself could see a 77% increase in land destroyed by forest fires in 2050.
Climate change has been a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of forest fires in the United States According to the Center for Climate and Energy The Solutions website, when a fire starts – more than 80 percent of U.S. forest fires are man-made – warmer temperatures and drier conditions can help fires spread and make them harder to put out. Unfortunately, climate change and risk factors are expected to continue to increase in the area affected by forest fires. It will be as important as ever to be proactive prepared and protected from forest fires.
Be proactive : Prevent or reduce damage to your property.
- Create a defensible space of 50-100 feet around your home (clear combustible vegetation)
- Clear all vegetation debris (leaves, branches, dead vegetation) from the roof, gutters and any open terrace
- Glue all your trees in this defensible space – (remove limbs up to 15 feet.)
- Plant non-combustible plants and vegetation
- Have your local fire department inspect the property and make any recommendations to reduce your fire risk at your home.
Be prepared : Know when and how to evacuate safely if you need to.
- Sign up for your community's emergency alert system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also provide warnings.
- Pack an emergency bag with items such as non-perishable food, water, medication and N95 masks for everyone in your family.  Store important documents in a fireproof safe.
- Determine the safest evacuation routes in advance and make sure your family knows them.
- If you receive an evacuation order, leave as soon as possible.
- Wear your N95 mask during evacuation and keep an eye on air quality warnings. Only remove masks when you are in a well-filtered or clean air again.
- Avoid charred trees and other debris. They may contain embers that may catch fire.
- If you need to go outside, be sure to cover your head and any exposed skin from flying glow.
- It may be tempting to return home when the fires subside, but do not do so until instructed by the authorities.
Protected : Have the insurance coverage you need.
- Review your homeowner's or tenant's policy with your agent to ensure that your boundaries are adequate and that your coverage is up to
- If you are forced to evacuate, your insurance may cover your living expenses. The basic HO-3 policy provides loss of use protection for up to 14 days when a civilian authority prohibits you from using your home. This covers your cost of staying in a hotel and the extra cost of eating out for your meals.
- If your home actually burns down in a wildfire and is not suitable for living in, most regular homeowner policies provide coverage for any increase in your living costs so that your household can maintain its normal standard of living.
- If your home and belongings are lost, it may be quicker to get a household inventory. It's easy to do – check out Central's instructional video.
Here are also some great resources for online preparation that you can get to know and share with your family.
Use these three P-files from now on. Be smart when handling fire in any case, because the safety of you, your loved ones, your home and your community is at stake.
The information above is of a general nature and your insurance and coverage may differ from the examples. Read your insurance policy in its entirety to determine your available coverage.
Copyright © 2020 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.