In Idaho, we can experience all kinds of natural disasters, like floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and right now – fires.
And if there are fires near your home, there are some things you should have ready to go, by the recommendation of the Northwest Insurance Council.
Last year, fires scorched more than 1.7 million acres in Idaho, and firefighters are currently fighting 11 fires that are burning a total of 57 thousand acres. So how do you prepare for a fire if it was burning toward your home?
Homes in the wildland interface are especially susceptible to fire damage, but homes that are packed in with other homes in the city still are at risk.
"Insurance companies are inspecting their customer's property to give them tips on what they need to do to save lives and property," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president.
Definsible space around your home is important to have, not only in the wildland interface, but in town. If your neighbor's house catches fire, it could spread to a tree between your home and theirs, and then spread to your home.
There were many homes saved during the Charlotte Fire, and one of the contributing factors was defensible space.
“The defensible spacing is the first place to start,” Newman said. “Make sure the shrubs are trimmed back, that you don't have branches overhanging your roof and that your rooftop is fireproof."
It's important to have preparations in place inside as well. You can do this by making a disaster survival kit. These should include non-perishable food that doesn't need to be cooked and water for three days, extra clothes, blankets and medical supplies. You should also have a short-wave weather radio with extra batteries.
But one of the most important things you can put in your disaster survival kit? Your insurance policy, and you should keep that bag by your door so when you need to evacuate, you have everything you need.
"If a wildfire sweeps through unexpectedly,” said Newman, “you can get out in ten minutes and not lose a tremendous amount of irreplaceable things.”
Newman also said you should have a video log of everything in your home. This is as easy as walking from room to room with your cell phone recording video. Make sure you get close to the expensive items in your home, like your televisions, appliances and jewelry.
You should have those big-ticket items typed on a list as well, with serial numbers, receipts and any other important information. You should also make video copies of social security cards, birth certificates, and insurance documents.
Another important step is to make sure you don't keep these in your house. They should be kept in a safety deposit box.
It may seem like a lot of time now, when there are plenty of other things to do, but NW Insurance Council has some free tools to use to help you along the process of keeping your future from going up in flames, even if your home does.
Follow this link for a free home inventory checklist: http://bit.ly/MW6Ky.
Follow this link for more information about how to prepare for the event of a fire: http://bit.ly/157HSD2.
Follow this link to a more detailed story about defensible space: http://bit.ly/11j2Ltn