PCI: Is Your Home Physically Prepared for Wildfire Season

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September 8, 2011 – SACRAMENTO, California – As dry conditions, lightening strikes and high temperatures persist throughout California, now is a crucial time to look around your home and make sure your property and family are physically prepared for a wildfire, says the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC).

“The end of summer and beginning of fall can bring together two fire prone conditions: dry brush and wind,” said Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president, state affairs. “It takes just one spark to ignite a wildfire so now is the time to get your home ready and your family prepared. Mitigation against fire risk can make a big difference if a wildfire breaks out.”

“Residents in Southern California are already seeing a series of wildfires that are damaging property. Now is the time to take action to prevent fire damage,” said Feliciano. “Make sure your family has an evacuation plan and knows what to do if there is a house fire or they are evacuated from a larger wildfire. There are simple steps you can take to stop the spread of a wildfire. Fire officials and insurers recommend brush clearance 100 feet around your home. Also remove any leaves, dirt and pine needles from your rain gutters and roof.”

A recent study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), analyzed the causes of damage in the 2007 Witch Fire in California, which burned 198,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 1,200 homes and 500 outbuildings. The study found that wind-blown flying embers, which can travel one mile or more, caused most of the ignitions to homes, not direct contact with flames.

“Wildfire season has almost become a year round hazard but California has experienced some major fires during the fall months. Spend some time now to take the simple steps that could make a difference for your home and family,” said Feliciano.

Are You Ready? – Tips on How to Physically Prepare for Wildfire Season:

  • Fire officials and homeowner insurance companies recommend homeowners create 100 feet of defensible space around the home. Homeowners should clear brush, grass, shrubs and dead trees that could ignite within the 100 feet around your home. Defensible space will slow the spread of a fire and help keep fire fighters safe.
  • Clean out any leaves, pine needles and dirt that may have collected in rain gutters and on your roof since last winter.
  • Cut back tree branches that hang over the house or near the chimney.
  • Create 6 feet of clearance between the ground and tree branches.
  • Do not place wood piles or wooden play houses against homes or structures.
  • Keep operational fire extinguishers in kitchens.
  • Make sure your fire/smoke alarms are operational with new batteries.
  • Have Family Evacuation Drills: Make sure your family knows what actions to take if a fire breaks out in the house. Teach all family members, young and old, how to stop, drop and roll in a fire. Make sure family members know how to get out of a house in the event of a fire. If a fire is in one room, shut the door to slow the spread of a fire. Do not open a room with a “hot” door knob.
  • Identify family valuables and treasures you can gather in a short time span. Plan for pets, grab leashes and food.
  • Consider landscaping with fire resistance trees and shrubs such as deciduous trees and low growing shrubs: http://www.squidoo.com/best-fire-retardant-plants-ever
  • Know your building codes and use fire resistant materials. California now requires the installation of sprinklers in new construction. Learn more about fire resistant building materials available in your area.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Log onto: http://www.ready.gov/ for more information about how to prepare for an emergency.

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) is an affiliate of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and represents more than 300 property/casualty insurance companies doing business in California. ACIC member companies write 41.8 percent of the property/casualty insurance in California, including 57.3 percent of personal auto insurance, 45.7 percent of commercial automobile insurance, 40 percent of homeowners insurance, 32.5 percent of business insurance and 43.4 percent of the private workers compensation insurance. PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association.

About PCI CANADA

PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $180 billion in annual premium, 37.4 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 44 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 30.7 percent of the homeowners market, 35.1 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41.7 percent of the private workers compensation market. www.pciaa.net