Summer Is On The Way
While winter might be house fire season, summer is wildfire season and it’s coming. It hasn’t even got hot yet, but already Utah’s governor has declared this year’s drought situation worthy of a state of emergency. We can count on tight water restrictions and probably hot temperatures from June to mid-September. That means wildfires are going to be a risk, even without potential misuse of fireworks for baby showers (please be responsible!). We don’t want to deal with wildfire evacuation orders.
I remember when I was a child, I looked out at the mountains clearly visible from my backyard and saw them lit up at night, creeping ever closer to First Dam. More recently, we had wildfires in Logan Canyon just last August. It’s a good idea to be prepared. We always hope nothing happens, but you never can be sure.
With Wildfires, Preparation Is The Key
Last year, we talked about some basic safety tips to protect your house. These are all good steps you should take to lessen the risk. This year, we want to expand on that. What happens if you actually have to evacuate your home?
Protecting Your Home In Case of a Wildfire Evacuation Order
1. Prepare For Evacuation Ahead of Time
When the order to evacuate comes, you cannot delay. Wildfires can start and spread quickly if conditions allow it. You may not have much time to delay, and if you do, you might congest traffic and make it difficult for emergency vehicles – like fire trucks – to get to where they need to respond. That would be bad. You need to be sure that if you must evacuate, you can get out quickly.
So, prepare ahead of time. Have an emergency kit that will have all the necessities you need to get by while away from home for at least two weeks. That way, if the evacuation goes longer, you have enough extra clothes to wear while you wash up used ones and won’t have to buy supplies while staying in a hotel somewhere. If you have relatives outside the evacuation area you can hook up with, make plans with them for these “just in case” scenarios.
2. Make Sure Firefighters Have Quick and Easy Water Access
If a wildfire gets close to homes, firefighters are going to need to quickly get to water. Fire hydrants are set up for this purpose, but you’d be surprised how many people block them. When we visit homes in cul-de-sacs, or out of the way areas of cities, we’ll occasionally see people park trailers or trucks near, or sometimes even in front of fire hydrants. Never do this! If you do and a fire truck needs access to it, they will think nothing of just ramming it out of the way. You’ll be stuck with the repair costs to your own vehicle, as well as the fire truck if they have to do that. Worse, if they can’t just ram it out of the way, they have to call in extra help to tow it away and that wastes valuable time.
3. Make Water Access Even Easier!
Sometimes, fire hydrants don’t have enough water. You can make things even easier for firemen by giving them more access to water. Keep hoses plugged in to outside water valves so they can quickly pick them up and use them if they need extra water. To make sure they have no problem with water pressure, make sure to turn off all sprinklers and deactivate their timers. That way, the water pressure will always be at peak when they come.
4. Last Minute Prep
Some work will have to be done last minute just before you leave. Turn off all gas in your house – at both the meter and the pilot light – to reduce the chance of the fires causing explosions. Move all propane tanks and appliances that use them away from structures for the same reason.
If you have time, move furniture away from the outer parts of your home, as the heat can pass through the walls and ignite furniture without needing to actually burn the house itself. This includes any flammable window shades or curtains. Leave the lights on so your house is clearly visible at night, or in smoky conditions. Finally, leave a ladder outside your house, plainly visible so firefighters can see it. If they need to quickly access your roof, they’ll be glad you did. In fact, don’t wait til the last minute to do this, just leave the ladder out all summer. That way, you won’t forget.
Don’t Forget Fire Insurance
Fire insurance will help save you a lot of money in repairs should a wildfire happen. Make sure you have coverage and that it actually covers you. Don’t forget fire insurance providers require you to make great efforts to minimize the risk on your part. This means following the steps we outlined in last year’s article. Particularly, pay attention to scrub, brush, and other flammables around your home. Most insurance providers will refuse coverage if the grass is allowed to dry up and turn brown around your home, or if you fail to remove dead leaves and burnable debris from window sills, gutters, or around your yard in general. Dead grass and leaves should be cleaned up in an area within 30 feet of your home at all times.
Here at Alpine, we do our best to work with your insurance to minimize the cost of repairs and restoration, but if your insurance denies you coverage because you ignored these basic requirements, we have nothing to work with. Don’t make that mistake!
Be Prepared For Wildfires
Of course, we always hope this won’t be an issue. I haven’t experienced a wildfire evacuation yet, but there’s been times when it the city considered it. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Prepare your home against wildfires ahead of time, and have plans to leave quickly if you have to. A little preparation ahead of time will save a lot of heartache later.
While a fire is a terrible thing to happen to your home, it’s not always as bad as it seems. You’d be surprised at just how much we can save and restore after a fire. Even if it looks ruined, we can often clean it up and make it good as new. We are experts in this and have facilities devoted to restoring your belongings after a fire, and many tools to help clean and restore your home afterward. If worse comes to worse, it’s not likely to be a total loss. Don’t give up hope and don’t hesitate to give us a call.
If you need our services, you can get in touch with us by any of the methods on our contact page, whether it’s by phone, email, or our contact form. Let us help you out whenever you need it!