Rising temperatures spark a reminder to ready homes for fire season

BCAA urges homeowners to take precautions to maximize protection against wildfires

BURNABY, BC, July 6 /CNW/ - With June's unseasonably cool weather now behind us, and temperatures across the province beginning to soar, the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) advises homeowners, especially those in or around heavily forested areas, to safeguard themselves against summer wildfires.

As one of the largest providers of home insurance in the province, BCAA Insurance handled hundreds of wild-fire related insurance claims during some of B.C.'s most destructive wildfires in 2003. BCAA also witnessed the overwhelming effects of forest fires on communities while providing assistance to homeowners during wildfire evacuations in 2009.

"We saw first hand the devastation many of our policyholders faced and learned more about what can make a home vulnerable to damage caused by a wildfire," says BCAA's Home Insurance Product Manager, Brooke Moss. "That's why we encourage homeowners to take the time to practice good fire prevention measures before summer temperatures rise to potentially dangerous levels."

BCAA advises the following smart, simple ways to prevent and reduce the risk of damage from summer fires:

    
    1.  Surround your home with a 10 metre defensible space. Clear away any
        trees, brush, gas/propane tanks and firewood that could add fuel to a
        fire. 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.

    3.  Assess belongings around your property. Always store firewood away
        from your house. Avoid keeping combustible materials, such as propane
        and natural gas tanks, under decks or porches.

    4.  Don't let occasional-use vehicles sit uninsured. It's smart to keep
        recreational and other occasional-use vehicles (e.g. boats, RVs,
        collectible cars) insured at all times, not only so they can be moved
        quickly in the event of a wildfire evacuation, but also so they are
        protected against year-round threats such as hail, arson or
        vandalism.

    5.  Barbeque safely. If using a gas or propane barbeque, ensure it is
        functioning properly and free of cracks or leaks. Always keep the lid
        open when lighting. Position the barbeque away from windows or
        combustible materials. If using a charcoal barbeque, dispose of hot
        embers in a metal container.

    6.  Be visible in an emergency. Make sure emergency crews can see your
        address clearly from the road. Be an advocate in your community for
        visible, fireproof street signs.

    7.  Be "Firesmart" inside your house. Keep one or more fire extinguishers
        charged and easily accessible. Develop a fire safety plan which
        includes a home fire drill. Practice your home fire escape plan
        regularly.

    8.  Prepare for the worst. Keep an itemized list or video record of your
        belongings in a safe place, such as a bank safe deposit box. Ensure
        your home and belongings are adequately insured, and that your policy
        is up to date. During natural disasters, such as wildfires, insurance
        companies may place temporary restrictions on accepting new business,
        making the instant purchase or upgrading of insurance exceptionally
        difficult.
    

Whether you're building or remodelling your home now or in the future, "Firesmart" your house and consider building with safer materials that have a better chance of withstanding fire embers. If you're planning a new roof, consider using non-combustible roofing material such as slate, metal, clay or tile - your insurance company may award a premium discount for non-combustible roofing.

To learn more about how you can protect your home and property against a forest fire read The Home Owners Firesmart Manual available on the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website at bcwildfire.ca. For questions about home insurance coverage in a forest fire, consult with your local insurance advisor.

About BCAA

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of over 780,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Public Affairs Advisor, Office: 604-268-5342 (M-F between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.), Cell: 778-228-8859 (any time), Email: niela.melanio@bcaa.com; Brooke Moss, BCAA Home Insurance Product Manager, Office: 604-268-5590, Email: brooke.moss@bcaa.com


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