Nevadans Should Prepare for Intense Wildfire Season
This year, exceptionally dry hot weather is expected to lead to an intense wildfire season, and Nevadans need to prepare now to save time and money later. To help Nevadans prepare for this wildfire season, the Nevada Insurance Council has joined with Living With Fire to promote May as Wildfire Awareness Month and to provide ongoing information on preparing for wildfires.
“Conditions in the Western United States are especially concerning this year,” said Michael Geeser, president of the Nevada Insurance Council (NIC). “Now is the time to create a defensible space around your home, develop an evacuation plan, create a home inventory, and do an insurance check-up of your coverage.”
Creating a defensible space of between 30 and 100 feet around your home will help its chances of surviving a wildfire. Keep your property clean and free of debris, and trim branches away from your roof, deck and gutters. Remove dead vegetation. Prune trees so that the lowest branches are at least 6 to 10 feet from the ground. Cover attic vents with wire mesh so that sparks and embers cannot enter your home. Woodpiles and propane tanks should be at least 30 feet from your home.
The Nevada Insurance Council also advises consumers to create an evacuation plan and to consider what you will need most if you are forced to leave your home on a moment’s notice. Designate a meeting place for family members in the event you are separate when a fire strikes. Plan for your pets and livestock.
Make copies of important financial and personal documents, including insurance policies. You should send these to relatives or friends out-of-state to ensure they aren’t left behind. Always keep receipts and important papers in a safe place.
Take a walk through your house with a smartphone or video camera and describe your belongings. Pay close attention to valuable items, and include as much information as possible. Don’t forget the garage and storage shed. Include inside closets and open drawers of desks, dressers, cabinets, etc. Many people forget the valuables that are kept in such out-of-sight locations. Store the video file on the cloud or send it to your insurance agent or a family member who doesn’t live in your house.
As an added precaution, complete a home inventory checklist. A home inventory, also stored in a safe place out of the home, should include lists, pictures or a videotape of the home’s contents. “Such records are vital,” Geeser said, “Few people can remember all the possessions they have accumulated over the years. Having an up-to-date home inventory will help get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.”
Geeser also recommends that homeowners take the time to understand what their policies do and do not cover. Homeowners need to do annual insurance policy “check-ups” to make sure they keep up with local building costs and have adjusted their coverage to include home remodeling and additions.
In the event that a wildfire strikes your area, listen to your radio/TV for announcements from law enforcement and emergency personnel. Obey evacuation orders promptly. The terms “Voluntary” and “Mandatory” are often used to describe evacuation orders. However, local jurisdictions may use other terminology such as “Precautionary” and “Immediate Threat.” These terms are used to alert you to the significance of the danger. All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety. If you have time, make sure your windows and doors are closed but not locked; leave your lights on to help firefighters see your house. Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
For more information on how to prepare for wildfire season, visit the Nevada Insurance Council website at NevadaInsuranceCouncil.com or Living With Fire’s website at www.livingwithfire.info/. In the event of a major fire, the Nevada Insurance Council website will be updated with emergency information and contact numbers.
The Nevada Insurance Council is a non-profit, non-lobbying organization representing the property and casualty insurance industry in Nevada. NIC is dedicated to informing consumers and the media about the insurance business, automotive safety, homeowners insurance and related topics.
NIC: Jim Denton 702.437.9007
Living with Fire: Sonya Sistare 775.336.0271