After the fire
It’s clear from the past few wildfire seasons that it’s extremely difficult to contain fires, and the slightest change in wind direction can wreak havoc on containment efforts. So, it’s important to stay away from your home until you’ve been given the official OK to return.
Once you do, proceed with caution. The Ready for Wildfire website has created a guide to staying safe when heading back home. Some key tips include:
- When driving to your property, check for any debris that may be a potential cause of harm or utility poles weakened by fire.
- Check the outside of your home for fire or fire damage, including hot embers in rain gutters, on the roof, under decks or in wood piles.
- Review the inside of your home for any destruction or live fires, and determine if phones, security systems and alarms are in working order.
- If you find any fire or fire damage, alert local authorities or utility companies.
Protect your assets
After you’ve assessed any potential destruction to your home or car, you’ll need to document that damage before making a claim to your insurance company.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends contacting your insurer as soon as possible so an adjuster can visit your home and review the situation. The adjuster will likely ask for a “proof of loss” form, which includes questions about the type of damage incurred, dates of purchase and potential repair costs. The III suggests holding on to every damaged item until your insurance rep has made a claim report, in case anything needs to be double checked. And lastly, there may be a time limit on your claim, so check with your insurer so you don’t miss the window to file one.
It’s easy to feel helpless when it comes to wildfires, but with the right preparation (and Smokey Bear’s words of encouragement) you’ll be in fire-fighting shape.