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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (503) 465-6800/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo

Wildfire: protect your home or business now and be ready for next year's wildfire season

SEATTLE - With wildfires continuing to devastate property across the Northwest, you can take action now to protect your home or business from danger - both this year and before next year's wildfire season arrives.

"Wildfire danger will continue to be high for the foreseeable future," said Karl Newman, president of the NW Insurance Council. "The good news is that there are simple precautions you can take that will protect you now and set you up for safety before next year's wildfire season gets here."

So far this year, 2,743 fires have burned 2.9 million acres in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Across the nation, 46,000 wildfires have scorched more than 8 million acres in 2012.

NW Insurance Council offers the following wildfire preparation tips to help you protect your family, home and business by taking action now:

  • Defensible Spacing - Clear brush 30 to 100 feet from your home or business. Keep your grounds well groomed and watered and remove old stumps and weak or diseased trees from your property. Create a buffer zone by landscaping with fire-resistant plants. Contact your local utility company if you notice tree branches touching power lines.
  • Review your insurance policy - Contact a representative from your insurance company or your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance, especially if you have outbuildings or you've recently made additions to your home or commercial building.
  • Fireproof your rooftop - The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home or business when it comes to fires. Replace wood-shake roofs with less flammable material when possible and keep roofs and gutters clear of needles and leaves.
  • Exterior precautions - Install screens on chimneys, stovepipes and attic openings. Trim trees that overhang the building to prevent fire in trees from easily spreading to the roof. Keep flammable materials and fuel tanks at least 30 feet away from the structure.
  • Be accessible and visible - Make sure your address is visible from the street. If firefighters can't find you, they can't help you.
  • Interior precautions - Consider installing a home sprinkler system and make sure the sprinkler system in your business is in good working order. Replace batteries in smoke detectors in every room at least twice each year.
  • Develop an emergency preparedness plan - Gather and store a three-day supply of food and water, First Aid supplies, flashlights and a portable radio.
  • Maintain a complete home inventory - Keep copies of contracts and receipts of your personal possessions in a safe place outside of your home. Take pictures or video of your belongings. Your home inventory can help you and your adjuster settle your claim if your home is damaged or destroyed by wildfire. Free, downloadable Home Inventory Software is available on the Insurance Information Institute's website.
  • Prepare your business - Prepare your business to survive natural disasters, including wildfire, by following the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety's Open For Business property protection and recovery planning guidelines.

To learn more about safeguarding your home and business from wildfire, download a free Wildfire Retrofit Guide from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). Also, to order a free copy of NW Insurance Council's brochure, Firestorm - Northwest Wildfires: Protect Yourself, call (800) 664-4942 or email

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.