Know Your Risks
If you live in an area at risk of forest fires, you should take the time to research available emergency resources as well as what an evacuation procedure could look like. Putting an emergency plan together once you know your risks is key to protecting yourself before, during and after a forest fire.
Before the forest fire
Before the forest fire season starts, sign up for insurance coverage for your home and property. Stay on top of weather reports and fire alerts 24/7 by monitoring your local news, emergency officials and the Government of Canada’s Canadian Wildland Fire Information System.
You could also contact your insurance company and reach out to your local municipality. Taking the following measures could also be key to staying proactive in case of an emergency:
- Get together with family to practice fire safety techniques and discuss an emergency plan.
- Practice evacuation routes from your home and your neighbourhood.
- Share your plans, as well as safe places to gather and possible temporary accommodations, with your neighbours.
- Put together an emergency preparedness kit and keep it on hand along with a radio and flashlight.
- Keep your vehicle well-fuelled.
- Choose flame-resistant, well-spaced plants and shrubs for your yard and around your home.
- Keep your lawn mowed regularly.
- Prune any nearby evergreen trees.
- Clear your home’s entryways and driveways.
- Keep the ground, patios, decks, balconies and nearby power lines clear from debris and flammable material such as dry leaves and needles, branches, firewood, and grass.
- Consider screening your gutters with metal mesh to keep out debris. Clean them regularly.
- Choose the more fire-resistant concrete, stucco, brick, metal or fibre cement siding for your home, over untreated wood or vinyl siding.
- Place a spark arrestor on your chimney.
- Check your eaves and vents for proper fit and ensure they are made from non-combustible materials.
- Seal your garage and entry doors and ensure they have been fire-rated.
- Choose tempered, thermal double-paned windows.
- If you live on a ranch or farm, keep your livestock unsheltered.
During a forest fire
Be prepared to evacuate yourself and your family at any time during a forest fire. Follow these additional safety measures to ensure your evacuation is as quick and safe as possible:
- Listen to your local radio stations and keep checking social media platforms for up-to-date news on road closures and evacuation alerts.
- Park your car facing forward on the driveway and keep the windows closed.
- Place important documents and other valuables in your car in case you do evacuate your home.
- Keep windows and doors closed to reduce smoke and debris and minimize damage.
- Keep propane barbeques, firewood, furniture and anything flammable or combustible away from the house, shed or other structures.
After the fire
After the fire, you may have some anxiety about returning to your home. Wait for the go-ahead from fire officials first. Once it’s safe, going back may feel emotionally overwhelming, so take things a few small steps at a time. Here are some tasks to keep in mind for your to-do list:
- Keep checking for news and announcements from local officials.
- Get disaster financial assistance or temporary housing from your local government office.
- Check the status of your water, sewer, power, gas, phone and internet services at home.
- Watch for hot spots that can flare up without warning when re-entering your home.
- Put on protective gear, such as rubber gloves, safety glasses and boots, when you re-enter and clean up.
- Discard contaminated food or water.
- Take photos and videos of damaged or destroyed possessions. Keep them, along with receipts related to repairs and other expenses, for your insurance claim.
- Put together a household inventory list of damaged appliances and other possession, including Desjardins
- serial numbers and their monetary value.
- Review your insurance policy and find out if house cleaning or restoration services are covered.
- Let your bank and mortgage provider know what happened.
- Arrange for a safety inspection of your home, as well as for any broken windows, smashed doors, and holes to be repaired.
- Ask your neighbours for help or offer a helping hand when you’re ready.
While taking these precautions will help minimize the damage that can occur from forest fires, it’s always best to ensure you have the proper coverage. Find out about the insurance coverage available from Desjardins Insurance.
Forest Fires: Protecting Yourself and Your Home Before, During, and Afterwards
Forest fires can be devastating, causing extensive damage to your property while also putting lives in danger. The season for forest fires is usually from May to September, but you can keep your home and family safe year-round by taking a few important steps.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice. The conditions of coverages are set out in the insurance policy, which always prevails.