How Can You Prevent Wildfires?

It seems that wildfire season no longer comes and goes. According to Cal Fire, the 2019 fire season has persisted with little interruption throughout the entire year. And in many regions of the US, wildfire season is now a permanent fixture. Whether you live in a high-risk area and you find yourself under a red flag warning or you’re trying to figure out how to prevent wildfires from occurring on your property, you’re not alone. They’re happening with greater frequency — but with your help — they can be prevented.

Wildfire prevention is all about being prepared before fires approach your property. By reducing the number of flammable items on your property, you can help prevent fires from igniting nearby. And with a little retrofitting and protecting your home with fire-resistant materials, you can help to prevent your home from burning.

To help you understand how these policies work, we’ll also take a quick look at how homeowners policies and renters insurance can help to protect everything you’ve worked so hard for.


How Do You Prepare Your House for a Wildfire?

Preparing your home for a wildfire is really about understanding how wildfires spread and ignite. It’s also about reducing local kindling on your property. Take a look at these ideas to help fireproof your estate and reduce the odds of a wildfire in your area.

Landscape to minimize and block wildfires

Homes at the top of a slope are more vulnerable than homes on flat land, but both types of properties can be protected with the help of groundcover and trees. Your home’s immediate perimeter needs the most careful protection. By opting for plants that can reduce ember combustion, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor.

Between 30 and 100 feet from your home, leverage tree and brush spacing to reduce the energy and speed of a wildfire. A professional landscaper can give you an idea of what plants and trees will thrive in your region that can also offer a layer of wildfire protection to your home.

Clear the area of combustibles

Keeping your home’s perimeter free of debris and well maintained can help keep fires from starting. Remove plants and brush growing directly under trees because they often seed a tree fire. Once a tree ignites, winds can carry embers from it up to a mile or more.

Keep gutters and downspouts clean

By reducing the fuel near your roof, you can help prevent it from catching fire. Installing non-combustible gutter guards, gutters and downspouts can help prevent debris from collecting in these vulnerable areas and igniting.

Inspect your fireplace chimneys twice every year

Have a chimney sweep reduce creosote buildup and be sure that they inspect and verify that the spark arrester is operating properly.

Remove debris from under porches and crawl spaces

Pull all combustible material from under porches and decks. Use a dense metal mesh screen to prevent items from being carried under them by the wind.

Install smart home fire and smoke sensors

Make your home into a smart home that can deliver news of smoke and fire to your phone in real-time. As sensors go off, they can be programmed to also inform the fire department. Your home can be better protected when first responders receive early warning.

How Can You Reduce Wildfires on Your Property?

Firefighters often talk about the importance of maintaining a “defensible space” when asked about their recommendations for reducing wildfires. Check in with your local fire chief and have them look at your property for a boots-on-the-ground review of what you can do to lessen the odds of fires destroying your home and belongings.

Scalp the ground near your propane tank

By cutting the grass very closely under and around your fuel tank, you can reduce the risk of fire damage to your home or property. An even better method is to spread base material like gravel across the area around your propane tank.

Avoid building with combustible materials

If you’ll be improving your property in the near future, upgrading to fire-resistant products and materials can be a great way to keep fires at bay. Installing a metal roof or selecting metal fencing options that connect directly to your home is another key way to stop fire in its tracks.

Store firewood away from structures

Simple as this sounds, it’s a mistake a lot of homeowners make. Build a small shelter out in the open to store your kindling, logs and other wood fuel. If an ember ignites the firewood, you can help keep losses to a minimum with this approach.

Manage dry vegetation on your acreage

If you’ve got several acres of property, be sure to cut grass frequently, specifically as temps rise and the rains start to taper off. Don’t wait until high winds and red flag warnings to fire-manage your property. If possible, collect the cuttings and dispose of that fuel. Or, compost it in a closed container stored away from any buildings on your property.

Maintain and use irrigation and sprinkler systems

Another simple way to prevent embers from igniting on your property is to keep it well-watered. Be sure to work within the watering limits of your community to give your property a healthy watering when possible.

Manage smoking materials carefully

In California, wildfires are sparked by many sources. Any of them can be started by a lit cigarette. Keep a bucket of water near your designated smoking area and be sure to have a fire-safe receptacle for discarded cigarettes.

Have an evacuation plan

A wildfire evacuation plan can help take confusion out of the moment by giving you a prearranged set of instructions. Much like having a home fire escape plan, practicing this fire drill helps all family members stay calm and focused. Be sure you’ve got a plan in place well in advance of any wildfire warnings. You’ll also benefit from putting together a customized plan for your home so you’re prepared should a wildfire evacuation be declared.

Make a natural disaster kit

One of the best ways to proactively prepare for the unexpected is to spend time putting together your own natural disaster survival kit.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wildfires?

Standard homeowners policies typically cover damage to or destruction of your home due to fire, which can include wildfires. If your home was destroyed by a fire, your homeowners insurance dwelling coverage would help you pay for the costs to rebuild your home, after meeting your deductible.

If it was damaged but not destroyed, you could be covered for repairs and the remediation of smoke damage to it after paying the deductible. Many policies offer additional living expense coverage to help pay for accommodations and other additional expenses you may incur when your property’s under construction.

Most renters insurance policies cover your personal property if it’s damaged by a covered event, like wildfires. Like homeowners, you’ll also have coverage for additional living expenses if your place becomes unlivable.

Get the Wildfire Insurance that Your Home Deserves

There’s never been a more important time to know that you’ve got the wildfire coverage your home needs. And by making steady progress towards the goal of reducing the risks of fire on your land, you can help to preserve and protect everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Remember to reach out to your American Family Insurance agent to request a homeowners quote. You’ll find peace of mind with a carefully crafted policy, designed by an insurance company you trust.


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