If you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfires, then you already know the damage these fires can do to the surrounding areas and your home. Whether you live by the shores of Lake Tahoe, or in the hills of Malibu, it is important that you take every pre-caution to make sure that your home is protected as best as possible from these wildfire natural disasters.
Each year, homeowners living in fire danger areas are susceptible to coverage drops from their insurance providers due to the risk associated with their homes. Those living in high fire danger risk areas will want to make sure that they are taking all precautionary steps to ensure they do not feel the impact of California wildfires on home insurance.
The most important thing you can do to help protect your home is to clear vegetation as far away from it as is reasonable. Most information out there will advise you to clear up to 100 feet, we at Old Harbor Insurance Services recommend that you go further and clear up to 150 feet when possible. Below, we will touch on everything you need to know about wildfire areas and the practical steps necessary to creating a safe defensible space.
Communities Most Susceptible to Wildfires
Identifying whether or not you are in a high fire danger area is the first step to ensuring that you understand the risks associated with wildfires as it pertains to your home and home insurance coverage.
Below is a list of California communities compiled by the Sacramento Bee that could be the next neighborhood to suffer from these natural disasters.
- Shingleton – Population – 2,283
- Nevada City – Population – 3,068
- Colfax – Population – 1,963
- Kings Beach – Population – 3,796
- Pollock Pines – Population – 6,877
- Arnold – Population – 3,843
- Wofford Heights – Population – 2,201
- La Canada Flintridge – Population – 20,048
- Rancho Palos Verdes – Population – 41,803
- Harbison Canyon – Population – 3,841
These are just the top ten listed by the Sacramento Bee, and we can assure you that there are many more cities that also are in very high risk areas for a wildfire.
What is defensible wildfire space?
Defensible space is the area surrounding your home where vegatation and other types of debris may begin to grow up to your home. It is important that a ‘defensible space’ is created to clear space around your home from these types of wildfire threats.
By having a properly created defensible space, you will be able to slow or limit the spread of the wildfire around your home. It is important to remove any and all flammable items, materials, or plants that may pose a threat to your home should a wildfire begin to wreak havoc through your neighborhood. By creating a defensible space around your home you will dramatically improve your chances of surviving a wildfire and also obtaining proper wildfire insurance from a home insurance provider.
How to Create Defensible Space Around Your Home in Case of a Wildfire
Now we will go over ways in which you can create a defensible space to protect your home from a wildfire. We recommend that you complete each of these steps to not only ensure that your home is as safe as possible in the event of a wildfire, but also to ensure that you stand the best chance to keep your existing homeowner’s insurance policy or are able to get covered for a new one.
Below are the Steps for Creating a Defensible Space Around Your Home:
- Clean gutters by removing any and all vegetation that has collected.
- Clear your roof of any tree debris.
- Cut any dry grasses or brush to three (3) inches.
- Remove any trees, bushes, or shrubbery that is dead or dying.
- Trim tree branches to a minimum of 10 feet from the ground.
- Trim tree branches a minimum of 15 feet from your home’s roof and chimneys.
- Remove any logs and stumps.
- Install gutter guards.
- Install an emergency gas shutoff valve.
- Install a centrally monitored smoke and fire alarm.
- Install an interior sprinkler system.
- Be sure to keep any and all firewood extremely far away from your home (at least 150 feet)
- Use fire resistant landscaping in order to reduce the risk of your landscaping catching on fire
- Be sure to keep your plants healthy and watered at all times.
- Place mesh screens under decks and porches as this will prevent debris from gathering in these areas.
- Install screens around stove pipes and chimneys to ensure that embers do not fly away.
- Contact your local fire department to do a review of your home’s fire safety.
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure that wildfire damage is covered under your policy. If not, contact us by checking out our high fire danger insurance policy by clicking here.
This list is intended to provide general guidelines. Each home is very unique, and a fire department inspection can help identify additional concerns specific to your property.
Are You Considering the Purchase of a Home Located in a High Fire Danger Area?
Below are items to pay attention to if you are considering purchasing a home in a high fire danger area. These items will NOT guarantee that the insurance company will accept and insure your home. However, it will allow you to have maximum available options for your high fire danger insurance policy.
- Home within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant.
- Home within five (5) miles of a fire department.
- Home with clear, year-round access to the property.
Next Steps for Protecting Your Home
Thanks so much for reading How to Create Defensible Space and Reduce Wildfire Risk Around Your Home for Insurance Purposes.
If you’d like more information about high fire danger homeowner’s insurance policies, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.