IBC urges BC residents to learn how to FireSmart their homes with educational
video posted on YouTube

VANCOUVER, May 6 /CNW/ - After a mild winter and predictions for a dry summer, indications are that BC is facing an increased risk of wildfires this year, a situation that is all too familiar to many communities. Insurance Bureau of Canada takes this opportunity during Emergency Preparedness Week to encourage all British Columbians to take steps to prepare for emergencies.

"These are the same conditions we saw in 2003, when over 2,500 blazes swept through more than 260,000 hectares of the BC landscape," said Lindsay Olson, Vice-President, BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). "More than 45,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and there was more than $200 million in insured damage to homes and businesses."

To provide homeowners with the knowledge they need to FireSmart their homes, IBC has produced an informative video that can be downloaded from YouTube," said Olson. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VZWwC0PhUk)

FireSmart is a national program endorsed by governments across Canada, the insurance industry and many other groups. It outlines a number of steps homeowners can do to protect their homes from wildfire, including:

    -  Replace cedar roof shingles with non-flammable materials such as
    -  Replace cedar siding with stucco
    -  Replace highly-flammable coniferous bushes with deciduous plants
    -  Reduce surrounding ladder and forest litter/fuels
    -  Reduce forest litter/fuels behind property
    -  Move wood piles away from home

"IBC recommends and supports programs like FireSmart because they are a step in the right direction to help communities adapt to climate change," said Olson. "We urge everyone to watch the video and FireSmart their properties now. Nobody wants to see a repeat of the devastation caused by wildfires in 2003, and waiting until the fire is roaring down the hill is too late to do something."

Many printed resources, including the FireSmart brochure, are available on IBC's web site at http://www.ibc.ca/en/BeSmartBeSafe/Publications/fire.asp.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: For further information: Ellen Woodger at (416) 483-2358 or Pete Karageorgos at (416) 362-2031

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