More intense and more frequent wildfires: that’s the reality most of western North America will have to get used to. This year, as early as May, wildfires had already displaced 10,000 people in the Western Canadian province of Alberta. The unseasonably early start to wildfire season has seen the sky turn orange with ash, putting the health of many vulnerable people such as seniors, children, and those with asthma at risk.
As the risks of wildfire spread and become more frequent, you and your family need to be prepared both for an evacuation due to wildfire and for dealing with the aftermath.
Emergency Supply Kit
Start your wildfire preparedness plan by putting together an emergency supply kit. Your kit should include:
- 3-day supply of food and 3 gallons of water for every member of the family
- A map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Prescription medications
- Change of clothing
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Phone & laptop chargers
- Pet food & water
- Important papers such as birth certificates, home insurance policies, etc.
- Cash, travelers’ checks, or an extra credit card
When an evacuation order is put in place, it’s time to put your plan into action. If a wildfire approaches your community, follow these 3 essential tips from the Red Cross:
1) Listen to the local radio station or TV and stay alert for mass evacuation orders;
2) Use the Red Cross’s map to track fires and find open shelters, put your evacuation readiness kits by the front door, and get ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice; and
3) Double check your emergency kit and replace or replenish items like medications, medical supplies, or anything that may have expired.
Accessing Home Insurance During Evacuation
When a mass evacuation order comes into effect, the Red Cross and governments set up facilities to provide assistance such as shelter, food, and water. If your home insurance policy includes mass evacuation coverage, you may also be able to access assistance from your insurance company to cover those costs incurred due to your evacuation.
How Home Insurance Can Help
A policy that includes mass evacuation coverage can help you pay for the costs of temporary accommodations, gas and mileage involved in getting out of the danger zone, toiletries, emergency clothes, and even medications.
Contact your insurer as soon as your family is safe. Ask about the coverage available to you under your policy and request that they send a copy of your insurance policy to your temporary accommodations. Once you know what type of coverage you have, you can inform your insurer about your intention to file a claim.
Once the evacuation order is lifted, you may be able to return to your home and see whether you will need to make a claim for lost personal belongings, structural damage, or even coverage for the cost of any necessary extended stays away from your home.
You can get more information about wildfire readiness and how your home insurance policy can help you manage the financial stress online. With the risk and intensity of wildfires increasing, check your home insurance policy. Many older policies may be out of date, leaving you underinsured against the current climate risks in your community. Update your policies and make sure you understand how you can access financial help such as mass evacuation coverage when your family needs it.