As the drought continues to intensify in California and neighboring states, owners of rural and urban properties need to take steps to protect their properties and avoid fire losses. This is especially true in California where the number of wildfires has increased to historic proportions. In 2013, there were 9,907 wildfires recorded in California, more than any other state. Arizona had 1,756 wildfires which represented the fifth highest number of wildfires in the country.
This year’s dry winter will only increase the potential for wildfires in the West, not only because of the dry vegetation, but also because summer temperatures are expected to be abnormally high this year. The lack of moisture in vegetation combined with higher temperatures is expected to result in a larger number of high-intensity fires. Even though most wildfires occur in forested areas, the expansion of homes and businesses into forested areas makes the threat more likely than ever before. In order to reduce the chance of fire affecting your home or business, property owners can take the following steps:
- use fire resistive materials on roofs and sides of buildings
- screen in vent openings with ¼ inch or smaller metal mesh to keep embers out of attics
- box in eaves
- enclose areas under decks and patios to keep embers from igniting material under them
- install double-paned windows and use fire resistive material in drapes and curtains
- keep rain gutters and roofs clear of pine needles, branches and leaves
- stack firewood at least 30 feet from the structure
- keep a garden hose long enough to reach anywhere around the structure
Property owners should also keep important documents in fireproof safes or cabinets and have fire tools like ladders, shovels, rakes, axes, and buckets handy. Finally, keep your property insurance up to date-make sure you have enough insurance if you do suffer a fire loss.
Western Growers Insurance Services can help members with any of their property insurance needs for business or home coverage. For more information, contact Jeff Gullickson, Sr. Vice President, WGIS, at email@example.com.
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