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Wildfires and home insurance
May 24, 2024
3 min
How to be Prepared for Wildfire Season in Canada

British Columbia and other western provinces in Canada are bracing for another turbulent wildfire season. As it has already ramped up in BC, residents and authorities are working together to prepare for another challenging summer.

So how can you best protect your home and be prepared if the wildfires directly impact your area? Here is what you can do to stay safe during another potentially devastating wildfire season.

Be Prepared for Evacuations

With wildfire season in Canada upon us, we wanted to clarify the expectations of a mass evacuation should it happen to you. Here are the three stages of a mass evacuation:

Evacuation Alert: Be prepared to leave the area at short notice. Have a bag packed and ready to go with essentials including clothes, important documents, and medication.

Evacuation Order: You must leave the area immediately and are not allowed inside the area covered by the order.

Evacuation Rescinded: Once the threat to your life has passed, you’ll receive a notification that the evacuation order is lifted and you can return home.

Pack a ‘Grab & Go’ Bag in an Evacuation Scenario


Emergency Preparedness B.C. suggests keeping a 'grab-and-go' bag ready for your workplace and vehicles in case of a mass evacuation scenario. They recommend packing key items such as your identification, medication, and cell phones if you need to leave at a moment's notice.

Here’s what else it should include:

grab and go bag
 

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Be in the Know

With wildfires already happening in parts of western Canada, authorities are urging people to be prepared for the worst. Here are a few things to consider in preparation for wildfire season and potential evacuations.

Know where to go if an evacuation order is set. Stay informed by monitoring the weather and your local news outlets as well as your local emergency officials for possible evacuations and wildfire alerts.

Insurance coverage - check your home insurance coverage and options if you have to leave. Taking photos of the inside of your home, including its contents, will help for insurance purposes.

Evacuation - make a plan for a possible evacuation and outline any details about your family, including pets, and your home. Add things like healthcare history, insurance, and information about utilities. Pack your emergency kit or your grab-and-go bag.

Secure your home  - in the event of an evacuation, secure your home only if it is safe to do so. Close windows and doors, shut off the water, switch the electricity off, and close and latch gates but leave them unlocked.

It's also a good idea to learn where your utilities are located and how to turn things off in case of an evacuation scenario. Here are some things to consider:

  • Unplug non-essential electrical appliances
  • Move portable propane cylinders away from any structures to an area where fire impact will be minimal
  • Turn off valves and power knobs on appliances and systems
  • Shut off the water leading to hot water tanks
  • If you have propane storage tanks on site, clear the area underneath to limit the damage from wildfires                                                            

How to Fire-Smart Your Home

As BC residents worry about wildfires, they want to do more to protect their homes each year. Preparation around your property can help firefighters do their job and help defend your home against wildfires.

So, what does it mean to fire-smart your home? Here are a few things homeowners can do to help prepare their properties for the fire season:

  • Move any flammable materials such as gasoline at least 10 metres away from your home
  • Keep your grass shorter than 10 cm
  • A well-hydrated lawn will help keep it from becoming dry fuel
  • Keep highly flammable trees and hedges 10 meters away from your home
  • When you plant trees, space them out to slow the spread of fire
  • Flammable mulches should not be used against buildings
  • Store any firewood and lumber away from your home
  • Use non-combustible materials when building a new home or structure on your property

All these tasks should be done around your home and other structures on your property including sheds, barns, and garages. Fire smarting your home can help reduce the amount of damage caused by wildfires.

 

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