Wildfire Awareness Week: Preparation Tips

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This week is Wildfire Awareness Week across California. When it comes to preparedness, the AIA encourages communities to think proactively about building smart and strong before a wildfire starts.

"Lawmakers, insurers, and communities alike need to continue working together to ensure Californians are well informed about their wildfire risks and what can be done to mitigate them.”

Given last year’s tragic losses, this year’s Wildfire Awareness Week is extremely important for all Californians. When it comes to preparedness, the AIA encourages communities to think proactively about building smart and strong before a wildfire starts.

“There are steps renters and homeowners can take to protect themselves and their communities before a wildfire starts,” said Katie Pettibone, AIA’s vice president for state affairs, western region. “The National Institute of Building Sciences recently found that every $1 invested in wildfire mitigation saves us $3 in rebuilding costs. Lawmakers, insurers, and communities alike need to continue working together to ensure Californians are well informed about their wildfire risks and what can be done to mitigate them.”

The AIA offers these tips to Californians to help prepare in advance of a wildfire:

1. Personal Preparedness

  • Stay informed about any potential threats in your area.
  • Be sure to monitor your local weather reports regularly and sign up for your communities’ text or emergency alerts.
  • Know evacuation routes ahead of time. Be sure to communicate with family and friends about your exit strategies.
  • In addition to a first aid kit, keep extra batteries and a portable phone charger on hand, so you can stay informed.

2. Property Preparedness

  • Keep your property free of debris and other flammable materials.
  • Consider creating a “non-combustible zone” in which shrubs, trees, wood and other flammable materials are removed from within 5 feet of your home.
  • Choose landscaping, materials, plants and shrubs that are unlikely to spread fire to your home.
  • Consider using fire-resistant materials when landscaping or doing construction work on your property.
  • Consider installing a fire-resistant roof.

3. Financial Preparedness

  • Regularly communicate with your insurer or agent to review your homeowners or renters policy to see if you have enough coverage to protect yourself and your home, property and belongings.
  • In addition to your agent’s contact information, keep a copy of your policy number handy.

4. Proactive Fire Prevention

  • Never leave an outside fire unattended, and double check that the fire is fully extinguished before you leave it.
  • Refrain from using any tools that create sparks on dry and windy days.
  • Store gas grills and propane tanks 15 feet or more away from your home or other structures.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or water hose on hand when dealing with fire.

Additional Resources:
AIA's Disaster Resources
AIA Tips for Wildfire Recovery
FEMA: How to Prepare for a Wildfire
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety: Wildfire

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