Every year, over 100,000 forest fires burn across North America and research shows that this figure is rising. Recent wildfires in BC, Alberta and California have destroyed over 15,000 homes combined, not to mention cost hundreds of lives. Wildfires can travel up to 23 kph and consume everything in their path. So, what can you do to protect your home and your loved ones?
In fact, fireproofing your home may not be as costly as you think. A recent study, sponsored in part by the insurance industry, compared the cost of traditional building materials to those specifically designed to halt or slow the spread of fire.
For a three-bedroom, 2,500 square-foot build in Montana, adding a fire-resistant roof, vents and gutters increased material costs by $6,000 (or 27%), with fire-resistant doors and windows adding another $5,000. However, the increase in cost can be offset by using fire-resistant fibre-cement siding, meaning the overall cost increase is only 2%.
So, it may be possible to add protection to your home, but what should you do if there’s a fire in your neighbourhood? First things first, make sure you and your family are safe. Here’s how:
For more valuable tips, and to complete a home hazard assessment, check out the Fire Smart Manual for one of these provinces: Alberta or BC. For more detailed information about protecting your home from wild fires, take a look at the Homeowner’s Guide published by the BC Forest Service.
FireSmart is a partnership of community members, local governments, firefighters, community leaders, and industry partners, brought together under one umbrella by a not-for-profit organization called “Partners in Protection” whose goal is to reduce the threat of wildfire.
FireSmart recommends various ways to protect your home from damage caused by wildfires. A report by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction shows the results of a study to see how at-risk communities are complying with these guidelines.
One area that stood out as a potential problem was vegetation near homes. While there are regulations surrounding the types of materials that can be used in home construction, vegetation surrounding a property was identified as the single largest contributor to homes lost in wildfires.
Based on this, FireSmart identifies three Priority Zones that must be managed to reduce the threat to your home. The most critical are zones 1 and 2:
The 10 metre radius immediately surrounding your home is the most critical area to consider for fire protection.
This “fuel free” space gives firefighters a chance to save your home from an advancing fire.
Between 10-30 metres from your home is the second priority zone.
The type of plant material and the design of the landscape immediately adjacent to your home is a critical factor. FireSmart also recommends that when landscaping your property, homeowners should:
The ICLR report points out how close we are to seeing another disaster like the one in and around Kelowna in 2003. The ICLR also provides a brochure about protecting your home from wildfire. We all need to do our part to not only prevent forest fires, but to limit the damage to life and property should wildfires occur. For more information, please see the FireSmart Canada website.
It’s also important to make sure you have the right home insurance. If the worst happens, and a wildfire strikes in your area, don’t be caught without enough coverage to rebuild your home. An insurance agent can help you complete a home evaluation to be sure you’ve got the right protection for your home, your contents, and any detached structures on your property. For more information, or to get a home insurance quote, contact Square One at 1.855.331.6933.
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Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $12/month.