Many of you know, in 2014 Warwick Resource Group had entered into a partnership with Libke Insurance Associates of Washington State. Our west coast partners have become “family”, over the last year, as we have been working in conjunction to bring our agencies under one inclusive insurance roof.
We were quite alarmed recently when three of the Libke offices were in danger of being damaged or consumed by wildfire, including the west coast headquarters in Wenatchee. Some of our staff were also in danger of losing their own homes. This is highly unusual as Washington is known for it’s cool, moist weather, even during the summer months. The entire Pacific Northwest is undergoing a record drought with oppressive temperatures and as of the end of summer, the state had experienced over 320 separate wildfires.
- According to the NOAA, January – August, 2015 was one of the worst periods in the history of the United States for Wildfires. Over 43,819 fires, burned 8,202,557 acres (most on record), which is 187.2 acres burned/fire (most on record). Combine those facts with latest Drought Statistics from the U.S. Drought Monitor; currently, moderate to exceptional drought covers 31.5% of the contiguous United States and the worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) increased slightly from 10.9% last week to 11.2%.
- The United States is having one of the worst continual wildfire seasons in history.
It does not matter where you live or work, wildfires can start anywhere and anytime. A campfire, tossed cigarette, burning debris or lightning, can ignite brush or vegetation which leads to wildfire. It can occur on winding back roads, suburban neighborhoods, or town parks. It only needs a simple spark to start.
Luckily for everyone at WRG, our west coast offices were spared from the brunt of the devastation, but with the disaster hitting so close to home, I thought it might be a wise idea to give our clients and friends some advice on keeping wildfires at bay. Even in our own tri-state area, it has been oppressively dry, with little soaking moisture forecast for the already crisp autumn months. Many parks departments and forestry services are warning of possible fire dangers.
As always, WRG wants to keep you safe and the information below is a good place to begin.
PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM WILDFIRE:
- Prepare an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. (WRG has a checklist available at http://www.warwickresource.com/research-center/disaster-preparedness-center/emergency-basics)
- Make sure your home is sided and landscaped to resist fire. Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.
- Clean roof and gutters of dry debris regularly
- Keep chimneys and stovepipes clean and in perfect working order. (Contact your local fire department for specifications.)
- Screen exterior openings to floors, roof and attic.
- Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
- Teach family members location and use of fire extinguishers
- Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
- Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
- Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
- Identify outside water sources: small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.
- Have a garden hose long enough to reach each area of the home and outbuildings on the property.
- Install freeze-proof exterior outlets on at lest two sides of the home and near other outbuildings and additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
- Consider portable gasoline powered pump or generator in the electrical power is lost.
For further information:
www.firewise.org - Organization dedicated to keeping communities "wildfire free."
www.readyforwildfire.org - Protecting your home from forest fire safety tips.
www.ready.gov - Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed.