Wildfires happen all over the country; however, they occur predominantly in areas where the ground is dry and it has not rained in some time. If there is a wildfire near your home and you are being instructed to evacuate, do so immediately. If you have time to prepare your home, it is recommended that you take the following actions:
- Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc.
- Remove flammable drapes, window shades and curtains.
- Close all doors inside the house to prevent drafts.
- Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
- Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
- Leave your outdoor and indoor lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
- Shut off the air conditioning.
- Place a ladder against the house so the firefighters can see it.
- Turn off propane and move propane barbecue appliances away from structures.
- Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill buckets and trash cans full of water and place them around the house.
- Back your car into the driveway, with the vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
- Turn off your garage-door power and shut the garage door.
Only if you have enough time, consider packing the following:
- Social Security cards
- Driver’s licenses
- Credit cards
- Health insurance cards
- Prescription medications
- Important personal computer information downloaded to disk/memory stick and/or bring laptop
- One week’s worth of clothing
- House deed
- Vehicle titles
- Birth Certificates
- Insurance policies
- Home inventory list / photos
After a disaster, the following actions are recommended:
- Contact your insurance agents or insurance company immediately and let them know where you can be reached. Once an adjuster is allowed into the area, he or she will want to go and assess your damage. Many companies will set up 24-hour emergency hotlines as well as command centers near the burned-out area.
- Arrange for accommodations while out of your residence. A temporary housing company such as THD will set up hotel accommodations and long-term housing if required. They will coordinate payment with your insurance company.
- Keep receipts. Many out-of-pocket expenses during a mandatory evacuation are reimbursable under most standard homeowner policies.
- Prepare a description of your damage. Once you contact your carrier, a qualified adjuster will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. Make sure you provide all phone numbers where you may be reached.
- Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help with your claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
- Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make copies for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible and should include a description of the items, approximate dates of purchase, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
- Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices. Many insurance companies will provide contractor referrals.
It is most important to closely watch the path of the fire, as it can change at any time. Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials — or you can make a judgment call to leave sooner if you see the fire coming in your direction to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Once you evacuate, make sure you do not return to your home until the fire officials determine it is safe.
Please feel free to contact THD for assistance at 800-817-3220 or at email@example.com if you require hotel accommodations or temporary housing.