Protecting Your Home From Wildfire – Here Are Some Things You Can Do

November 08, 2019

Whatever your opinion about the causes of climate change, there’s no question that global temperatures are increasing and wildfires are becoming more frequent and more severe in California. As we have seen in recent months, no part of the state is immune. While no home is completely fireproof, there are numerous things you can do to reduce the risk that yours will become a victim of the next major fire.

Create and Maintain a “Defensible Space”

It sounds like a military phrase. With fire as the enemy, the comparison is not too far off. A defensible space will help slow the progress of a wildfire and possibly even allow it to pass  your home. While creating this space is a good idea wherever you live, it’s required by law if your home is in certain areas at higher risk. The CalFire website, “Prepare For Wildfire” has detailed information regarding the 30-foot and 100-foot zone requirements.

In addition to the obvious (for example, removing dead trees and shrubs and other flammable debris, such as pine needles and regularly watering all vegetation)., here are some additional steps you can take:

  • Planting more native vegetation. Though it may seem odd, maintaining healthy vegetation near your house can actually prevent wind-blown embers from reaching your home.
  • Planting all trees at least 10 feet apart. This will reduce the possibility of embers from one burning tree igniting a neighboring one.
  • Keeping firewood and propane or other storage tanks at least 50 feet away from the house.

Use Non-Flammable Building Materials

If, despite the existence of a defensible zone, a wildfire reaches your house, having non-flammable materials in place on the home’s exterior will reduce the possibility of major damage or destruction. Among others: 

  • Non-combustible roofing materials.
  • Fire retardant coating on the undersides of decks.
  • Materials such as stucco, stone, or brick (vinyl siding is NOT recommended). 

You may find that using fire-resistant materials will also get you a break on your homeowner’s insurance premium.

Work With Your Community

All the defensive measures in the world may not save your home if the house or yard next door ignites. Preparedness of your neighborhood can be as important as what you do on your own property.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Community Mitigation Assistance Team helps communities develop cooperative prevention programs, and the National Fire Prevention Association has recognized almost 1,500 communities nationwide through its “Firewise” program. These programs promote cooperation and community-wide management efforts.

Property Damage Claims

Despite your best efforts, your home may suffer damage from, or even be destroyed by a wildfire. If this happens, you will of course be shaken, even if you and your family don’t have any injuries. However, you’ll want to make a claim against your property (homeowner’s) insurance policy as promptly as possible. Provide copies of whatever documents you have, including invoices for furnishings, electronics and other personal property. Any documents showing the cost of improvements.

The insurance company may try to get away with paying less than what you believe it will take to restore or rebuild your home. It may even try to deny your claim completely. Don’t accept a denial or a “low ball” settlement offer – the Law Offices Of Eslamboly Hakim Eslamboly attorneys have decades of experience in dealing with uncooperative insurers. Give us a call today.  

Picture Attribution: John Newman, from the interagency [Public domain]

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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