Is your home likely to succumb to wildfire damage sometime in the future? Most people would answer, “Probably not, since I don’t live near a forest,” or even, “I hope not!” And you might assume, even though we’ve suffered some tragic wildfires in recent years, that in the grand scheme of things this type of damage or loss is still pretty rare. But actually, wildfire damage is more common – and probable – than you might believe.
A new risk assessment model from the fire experts at the nonprofit group, First Street Foundation, recently demonstrated that a surprising two-thirds of properties in California are at risk of fire damage over the next 30 years. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that two-thirds of homes will burn down at some point! It’s just that the risk does exist, and many more properties than you might imagine will be exposed to this risk in coming years.
It’s not just Californians in danger, either. As Jeremy Porter, chief research officer at First Street Foundation explained, “What we saw across the entire country was essentially a doubling of risk, so places that have risk are going to see that risk double over the next 30 years but part of that doubling is also the extent of the wildfire catchment areas — those are going to grow.”
That’s because climate patterns favor increasing periods of heat and drought, especially across the Western portion of the United States. The risk is so high in California simply because we were already a high-risk area. More heat and droughts certainly won’t help matters, but it’s likely that these weather patterns will persist.
So, what do we do about it? The model was primarily created to help homeowners understand the risks that insurance companies already know. Comprehensive homeowners insurance or renters insurance is just the first step to protecting yourself. We must all take steps to reduce the possibility of wildfires by following local ordinances, behaving responsibly with campfires and fireworks, and taking note of weather conditions before even risking such activities. Install a sprinkler system and keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen (and another by your barbecue grill, if you cook outside).
And of course, rehearse a safety and escape plan with your family. In the worst case scenario, the top priority is your lives – not your belongings. But if your home is ever touched by fire, call us first. We can advise you on the next steps to take, and work with your insurance company to get damage cleaned up promptly.