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Protecting your home: Tips for wildfire preparation

We are facing another active wildfire season this year with heat waves and drought conditions hammering the west coast and several fires already triggering evacuations. As we continue to see wildfires burn more intensely, it’s important to remember that preparation is key.

In the current climate, proactive home maintenance can be the difference between mitigating small issues or tackling more costly issues down the line.

Nearly one in three homeowners report damage from severe weather or climate-related issues in the past year, and only two in five have made updates to their home to protect themselves against these types of issues, according to Hippo’s Homeowners Preparedness Report.

While many of the elements causing wildfires are out of our control, there are important things homeowners can do to proactively protect their homes and their families. As leaders in the protective and preventive home care, Hippo recommends proactively maintaining your home and its surrounding areas to create a clear defensible space to prevent wildfire damage to your home.

  1. Create defensible space.
    1. Your local fire department can always guide you with best practices more catered to your area.
    2. Move or store all patio/outdoor furniture, trampolines, woodpiles, barbecue grills, etc., outside the defensible space.
    3. Landscape your home and entire property with wildfire prevention and safety in mind. This includes selecting trees, shrubs and building materials that are fire retardant.
  2. Maintain the critical structures on your property.
    1. Clean the roofs and all the gutters of your home and outbuildings on the property.
  3. Have the tools in your toolkit if a wildfire occurs.
    1. Have a garden hose long enough to reach anywhere around your home and any other structure on your property.
    2. If you live in a two story house, purchase collapsible ladders for each upstairs bedroom. Typical ladders measure 15 feet and cover two stories of your home.
    3. Homes should include wildfire preparedness in their emergency plans, and the first step is assembling a Wildfire Readiness Kit. To get a downloadable template, click HERE.
  4. Install smart smoke and CO detectors outside each bedroom and on each level of your home in attics, basements and garages.
    1. Provides alarm notifications on your smartphone, unlike other smoke detectors.
    2. Allows you to connect them to your home security system so it can easily alert the fire department of any issues within your home even when you’re not there.
  5. Create an evacuation plan.
    1. Plan two evacuation routes in each room of your home
    2. Keep a whistle in each of your bedrooms to wake up your family members in the night if there’s a fire.
    3. Teach your family how to feel the temperature of the bottom of doors and avoid opening doors if they are too hot.
    4. Keep the plan in a safe place where anyone can access it, such as your refrigerator.
    5. Keep a few fire extinguishers in the home and garage.     

If you do experience a wildfire, it’s important to do a thorough inspection of your home upon returning.

  • For interested homeowners, Hippo provides a post-wildfire checklist on our website.
  • If you’re a Hippo customer, contact our experts, who can provide preventive home maintenance services and advice for homeowners and can help you make a plan. This complimentary service allows Home Care experts to share how to best protect you and your home from wildfires this season.

Courtney Klosterman is a Hippo consumer trends expert.