As summer approaches, the early wildfire season has made its appearance in Washington State. The recent wildfires in eastern Washington over the past weeks have reminded us of the scary and very real dangers of wildfires in drier parts of our state. In an effort to save lives and help our clients, we wanted to remind everyone of some basic wildfire safety information. Here are a few tips to help your family stay safe and keep your home protected.
Reduce the chance of losing to wildfire
No building is fireproof, but there are steps you can take to better the chances when wildfire strikes.
• Define your defensible space—a 30-foot, non-combustible zone around your home.
• Choose fire-resistant plants and trees.
• Remove or prune low hanging tree branches.
• Cut grass and weeds regularly and keep your roof and yard clean, especially from dry yard debris.
• Stack wood piles or other burnable materials at least 30 feet from your home or other buildings on your property.
• Keep signs and addresses visible so firefighters can easily locate your property.
• Rate your roof—is it fire resistant?
• Recycle yard debris and branches instead of burning.
When a wildfire strikes, protect yourself and your family
If a wildfire starts in your area, monitor local news reports for evacuation procedures. Prepare for evacuation by turning off gas valves and pilot lights, closing all windows and doors and packing your car for quick departure, if there is time and it is safe to do so. Return to a burned area only when local authorities have instructed you to do so.
Know what your insurance covers and how much you need
Your insurance policy covers repair or rebuilding costs. If you can’t live in your home, Safeco will pay additional living expenses as provided in your policy—typically for up to 12 months. Review your policy for detailed coverage explanations.
Business owners should also consider business income insurance, which is designed to cover the costs of replacing lost profits, payroll and operating expenses if you are shut down while repairs are being made.
It is important that you review your insurance policy once a year to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild based on current construction costs. We recommend you work with an independent appraiser to get a precise estimate, and make sure you talk to your agent about your building’s unique features.
Stay in Touch!
As your insurance partner, we want to make sure we can contact you and your family in the event of an emergency. In addition to your home address and landline, we’d like to have your e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers on file with your permission. You can update your records by calling 206-545-4800 or e-mail info [at] filerinsurance [dot] com. You can also walk in to our office at 4201 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105 or any of our other office locations.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources keeps an up-to-date record on fire risks and evacuation announcements. The US Forest Service also has updated information and evacuation announcements. Keep an eye on wildfires in the area and listen to the warnings.