BCAA donates $100,000 in assistance to British Columbians affected as wildfires threaten communities

Tips to protect homes provided—many homeowners still have time to prepare, says BCAA

BURNABY, BC, July 11, 2017 /CNW/ - With fires burning throughout the province and B.C. in a state of emergency, thousands of British Columbians have been forced out of their homes. In response to the province's recent declaration, BCAA is contributing $100,000 to the Red Cross that will support the province of B.C. and local communities in providing assistance to those affected by the wildfires. To help British Columbians stay safe and protect their homes, BCAA is also providing tips for those in high risk areas, as well as information to those who have already been evacuated. 

"BCAA has seen first-hand the overwhelming effects of forest fires on communities, including some of the most destructive wildfires in B.C.'s history and we want to help in any way that we can," says Shom Sen, BCAA president and CEO. "We understand that British Columbians are worried and those in affected areas have serious concerns, and we want to contribute to wildfire efforts so families can stay focused on ensuring they have the important things they need during this difficult time."

Hot, dry weather is expected to continue in the next week and throughout the summer, increasing the risk of more wildfires and putting nearby homes and communities in danger. BCAA says homeowners, especially those in or around heavily forested areas, can still take precautions to safeguard their family and homes against wildfires.

"In the past, BCAA has handled hundreds of wildfire-related insurance claims and we've learned more about what can make a property vulnerable to damage caused by a wildfire," says Brooke Moss, BCAA director of Member Engagement, responsible for BCAA's insurance products. "We encourage homeowners to take the time now to prepare their homes to protect it against wildfires and minimize damage that can be caused in the event that their home is struck."  

BCAA offers tips for homeowners and those who have been evacuated:

Prepare your home

  1. Create a 10 metre defensible space. Check around your property and if possible, clear away any trees and brush that could add fuel to a fire. Remove firewood away from your house and do not store combustible materials, such as propane and natural gas tanks, under decks or porches. Use driveways, lawns and gravel to create a fuel break wherever possible.

  2. Assess your roof. Clear away overhanging trees and combustible debris such as pine needles and other vegetation that could act as fuel for airborne sparks and embers. Keep all eaves troughs clear of dry material.

  3. Don't let occasional-use vehicles sit uninsured. Keep recreational and other occasional-use vehicles (e.g. boats, RVs, collectible cars) insured so they can be moved in the event of a wildfire evacuation.

  4. Be visible in an emergency. Make sure emergency crews can see your address clearly from the road.
     
  5. Develop a fire safety plan. Make sure it includes a home fire drill. Practice your home fire escape plan with your family.
     
  6. Prepare for the worst. Keep an itemized list or video record of your belongings. Take photos or videos of possessions such as jewelry, electronics and furniture. Document significant renovations and improvements made to your home. Don't forget landscaping items such as trees, shrubs and plants.

Residents in areas with moderate to high fire danger ratings or on evacuation alert

  • Move valuables and irreplaceable items to a safe location. Upload important documents or precious digital photos to a 'cloud' or onto a portable hard drive that you can take with you.
     
  • Locate vital documents (e.g. passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) and other critical items such as prescription medication. Keep them handy and ready to move if evacuated.
     
  • If it's safe, move additional vehicles (such as RVs, boats, antique cars) to a safe location. Basic liability insurance may be obtained to move vehicles, but coverage for physical damage may not be currently available in fire-affected areas. Contact your insurance advisor for details.

For those on evacuation:

Keep all receipts for living expenses incurred due to evacuation (e.g. accommodation, meals, toiletries, etc.). Most home insurance policies will cover a certain amount of additional living expenses for those forced to evacuate their homes. As with any fire-related claim, the base policy deductible, which is usually $500, applies to additional living expenses.

Visit bcaa.com/wildfires for more home protection and evacuation tips, along with answers to common insurance-related questions during natural disasters such as wildfires. To make a donation to B.C.'s wildfire efforts, the Red Cross has made an appeal and donations can be made by texting FIRES to 45678 to donate $10 or visit redcross.ca or call 1-800-418-1111.

About BCAA
As one of the largest providers of home insurance in the province, BCAA has handled hundreds of wildfire related insurance claims during some of B.C.'s most destructive wildfires, such as the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003, classified by the provincial Wildfire Management Branch as being the most significant interface wildfire event in B.C. history. And, in 2009 and 2011, BCAA team members helping homeowners during evacuations witnessed the overwhelming effects of forest fires on communities such as Falkland and West Kelowna. The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full auto service at BCAA's Auto Service Centres. Please visit bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA)

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Communication Specialist, Office: 604-268-5342, Cell: 778-228-8859, niela.melanio@bcaa.com


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