BCAA urges homeowners to take precautions against wildfires
BURNABY, B.C., July 29, 2013 /CNW/ - With temperatures rising in many parts of the province, 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 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, BCAA team members helping homeowners during evacuations witnessed the overwhelming effects of forest fires on communities.
"We've seen first-hand the devastation homeowners face when a wildfire is threatening their home, or worse, has devoured it," says BCAA Vice President of Insurance, Hubert Rau. "By working with our policy holders and taking a close look at the damage to their homes, we've learned more about what can make a property vulnerable to damage caused by a wildfire. That's why we encourage homeowners to take the time now, to practice good fire prevention measures."
BCAA advises the following precautions to help prevent and reduce the risk of damage from summer fires:
- Surround your home with a 10-metre defensible space. Clear away trees, brush, and firewood that could add fuel to a fire. Use driveways, lawns and gravel to create a fuel break wherever possible. Consider "Firesmart" landscaping options, such as planting more fire-resilient trees to expand your building's defensible space.
- Do not store gas/propane tanks under decks or porches.
- 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. If a roof is scheduled for replacement, consider installing roofing material, such as asphalt or ceramic, which are more resilient to fire and embers compared to cedar shake tiles.
- Be visible in an emergency. Ensure emergency crews can see the address clearly from the road. Be a community advocate for visible, fireproof street signs.
- Be "Firesmart" inside the home. Keep one or more fire extinguishers charged and easily accessible. Develop a fire safety plan which includes a home fire drill, and be ready at all times to put the plan into action.
- 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 a wildfire evacuation, but to also protect them against year-round threats such as hail, arson or vandalism.
- Prepare for the worst. Keep an itemized list of belongings in a safe place, such as a safe or deposit box. Take photos or videos of possessions such as jewelry, electronics and furniture. Don't forget to document landscaping items such as trees, shrubs and plants.
- Ensure your home insurance policy is up-to-date. Contact your insurance advisor to learn precisely what your policy covers. Ensure your belongings are adequately insured and that your policy reflects any significant renovations and other improvements made to your home.
To learn more about how you can protect your home and property against a wildfire, visit bcaa.com/wildfireprotection. For questions about home insurance coverage in a forest fire, consult with your local insurance advisor.
BCAA is one of the most trusted organizations in British Columbia, serving one-in-four B.C. households. With over 800,000 Members, BCAA provides an array of award-winning home, auto and travel insurance products and services, and roadside assistance. BCAA has also received the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates award for "Highest Customer Satisfaction among Home Insurance Providers in Western Canada". Now in its 107th year, BCAA has over $400 million in annual sales, 27 locations and over 800 employees. To learn more about the benefits of BCAA Membership, visit bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Road Safety Foundation visit BCAARoadSafety.com.
SOURCE: British Columbia Automobile Association
For further information:
For further information, or to request an interview, please contact:
Niela Melanio, BCAA Communication Specialist