May is National Building Safety Month: IBHS Urges Property Owners to Prepare for Wildfire

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The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers simple and effective ways to reduce your property’s risk of damage from wildfire.

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Wildfire ember storm testing at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center

Wildfire ember storm testing revealed that simple things like cleaning gutters, removing debris from the roof, and keeping dry vegetation away from walls can greatly reduce the chances of home ignition.

As part of National Building Safety Month, May 16 – 20 is Fire Awareness & Safety Week and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers simple and effective ways to reduce your property’s risk of damage from wildfire.

“Wildfire is a serious risk in 38 states around the country, threatening about 120 million people and their property,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president & CEO. “The number of destructive, expensive wildfires continues to rise, and whether or not a particular property survives a wildfire may depend largely on what people do ahead of time to prepare. We want to help property owners take control and minimize their risk by making their homes and businesses more wildfire-resistant.”

IBHS provides retrofit guides that are geographically specific for home and business owners:

Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Southwest            
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Southeast
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Southern California
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Rocky Mountain
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Pacific Northwest
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Mid-Atlantic/Northeast
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Great Lakes
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Florida
Wildfire Retrofit Guide - Central US

Each Retrofit Guide addresses the unique building styles and characteristics found in the region and also offers guidance for creating a wildfire-resistant landscape. Property owners can use the Wildfire Risk Assessment Checklist at the end of the guide to determine the retrofit projects they want to undertake, and use the cost estimator in the checklist to help prioritize the projects they can do now and those that should be part of future maintenance and renovations.

Further, IBHS offers guidance via how-to projects to help protect property from wildfire:
Identify Roof Vulnerabilities
Understand and Reduce Roof Risks
Protect Windows and Doors
Protect Vents
Protect Decks, Patios, Porches
Create Defensible Space Zones

Wildfire ember storm testing at the IBHS Research Center confirmed that it is not the advancing line of flames during a wildfire that destroys homes,” Rochman said. “Rather, it is embers or firebrands that create spot fires by igniting vegetation, debris and flammable materials that lead to ignition of the exterior of a house, as well as embers blown or drawn into buildings through gable vents, soffit vents and other openings that can ignite a house from the inside.”

Wildfire ember storm testing revealed that simple things like cleaning gutters, removing debris from the roof, and keeping dry vegetation away from walls can greatly reduce the chances of home ignition. Visit http://www.DisasterSafety.org to learn more about your wildfire risk and how you can make your building safer.

To arrange an interview with IBHS representatives, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, jking(at)ibhs(dot)org or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

About IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

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