Each year, our insurance and risk management experts brace themselves and our clients for another season of potentially dangerous and destructive wildfires along the west coast. While the fires may not be preventable, especially as experts warn weather conditions could make 2021 a particularly brutal year for wildfires, the destruction and loss they cause can be mitigated by preparing now for the fire season to come.
Last week, we hosted a webinar featuring some experts in fire preparation and recovery, including Brian Centoni, Paramedic Engineer for Alameda County Fire Department, Lawren Joyce, Fine Art Manager for The Haven Art Group, and Dorothy Sarna, National Director and Wildfire Program Manager for The Cincinnati Insurance Group. They discussed lessons learned from past wildfires and how to apply these lessons to protect homes and businesses this season.
The following tips are some of their key recommendations for protecting yourself and your property in the event of a wildfire in your neighborhood:
- Stay informed about fires in your area by joining the Nextdoor app for your neighborhood and following your local fire departments on social media. Brian also encouraged listeners to check CalFire’s Ready for Wildfire website for tips and preparedness plans.
- Prepare your home for wildfire season now. Keep clear 100ft of defensible space around your home to increase its likelihood of surviving a wildfire in your neighborhood. Get rid of any flammable mulches or vegetation immediately surrounding your house. Replace combustible attachments, such as sheds or decks.
- Set your fire preparedness plan with your family now. Set a meeting location and emergency communication systems. Know how to shut off water, gas, and electric lines and secure your property. Plan an evacuation route. Form a plan for evacuating your animals if you have them. Create an emergency supply kit with prescriptions, first aid, and food and water.
- For expensive belongings such as cars, art, jewelry, and collectibles, a more thorough disaster preparation plan may be necessary. Have an inventory, know the worth of your items, and record it in a file that you can access outside of your home.
The speakers all emphasized the importance of protecting yourself and your loved ones first if a wildfire threatens your home, and then moving to protect your home and belongings if safe to do so.
Brian, Lawren, and Dorothy also helped us compile the following list of resources to help prepare for a wildfire.
- NFPA Firewise Resources
- NFPA Firewise Contacts
- Cal Fire Main Site
- Cal Fire Incident Mapping
- Ready, Set, Go – Cal Fire
- FEMA – Emergency Kits
- Disaster Assistance.gov
- ArcGIS County Fire Maps
- Consumer Fire Products, Inc.
- All Risk Shield – Wildfire Home Defense
- Ember Wildfire Defense Solutions (Reno, NV)
- Alameda County Alert
- PulsePoint App