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Do not let Memorial Weekend fun spark disaster

CHICAGO, May 25, 2013-- As Americans take part in family barbeques, outdoor activities, sales at the mall, and Memorial Day parades, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reminds homeowners, renters and business owners to avoid letting summer fun spark wildfires.  Be cautious and conscientious and don’t let outdoor amusement backfire during dry weather conditions.

“The recent wildfires in California and the massive damage caused by the tornado that just ripped apart Moore, Oklahoma are stark reminders of the devastation that can be produced by Mother Nature,” said Christopher Hackett, PCI director of personal lines policy. “However, the Memorial Day weekend serves not only as the kick-off of summer but also as an excellent opportunity for residents in Western states to take steps to prepare and gain a better understanding regarding the risks of wildfires.”

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is predicting high potential for significant fire activity in the West Coast states, the Southwest and portions of Idaho and Montana. Low snowpack, dry reservoirs and drought conditions are complicating wildfire potential in the West and Southwest this year. Meanwhile, NIFC forecasts Southern states will have “below normal activity” and the remainder of the country is expected to have a normal fire season.

“A dangerous wildfire forecast in Western states like California, Colorado and the Southwest means now is the time to take steps to prepare both physically and financially for wildfires,” said Hackett.  “Take a few minutes to talk with your agent or insurance company to update your insurance policy, take pictures or video and inventory your possessions in each room of your home, find your important personal items and papers and put them in a fireproof safe.  Remind each family member what to do in the event of an emergency. If you previously owned your home and are now renting, make sure you have renters coverage. If you or a loved one has a home that is paid off, make sure that house maintains a homeowners insurance policy so the home can be rebuilt.”

Fire officials and the Institute for Business and Home Safety also remind residents and businesses to harden your home or property: flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile away.

“Recent fires in California demonstrated that debris clearance makes a difference and can stop or slow an expanding fire, thus saving homes,” said Hackett.  “Advanced preparation is the key to survival whether it is a tornado in Oklahoma or wildfires in California. But preparation goes beyond clearing brush and having a family disaster plan, it also involves understanding and addressing you financial risks. We urge residents of Western and Southwestern states to heed the warnings and prepare both financially and physically.”

Be Financially Prepared – Do an Insurance Check up

Talk with your agent or company annually to update policy.  Update policy after home renovations and additions.

Understand Your Insurance Policy

Understand what is covered under a replacement cost policy and an actual cash value policy.

Understand you must purchase earthquake and flood coverage under separate policies.

Make a Home Inventory

Take pictures & video of home’s interior.  Make lists of contents in each room. Keep receipts

Assess Risk

Do you need building code upgrade coverage?  Do you need additional coverage for a foundation or additional living expenses?

Create Defensible Space

Clear brush and debris around home, cut trees away from house, clear rain gutters, move wood piles away from home.

Make a Family Evacuation Plan

What will you take? Do you have medications, photo albums & pet supplies? 

© 2017 Tomlinson-Leis Communications L.P.