5 Ways to Protect Your Valuables Before a Fire Happens – InsuranceNewsNet

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As peak wildfire season – which runs roughly from May to October – approaches across the country, there’s no better time to start proactively preparing your home and property against the threat. of a forest fire.

(To find out if you live in an area susceptible to wildfires, this map of national fire zones and fire activity, created by the government National Interservice Center for Firefighters is a great resource for knowing your proximity to a fire zone.)

One of the simplest things you can do anytime before fire season arrives is to protect your valuables, including your important documents, irreplaceable photos, and even your cash.

While getting yourself and your loved ones to safety during a wildfire is paramount, here are some ways to plan ahead to make sure your most valuable possessions stay safe.

1. Scan your documents

Eliminate future headaches by creating digital files of all your most important documents. If paper copies of certain things, like birth certificates, are destroyed, they will need to be replaced, but having scanned backups of all your most important information will make the replacement process much smoother.

You can use an app like Doc Scan, which you can download to your phone, or, if you prefer a physical document scanner, you can try a portable, rechargeable, Wi-Fi-enabled paper scanner.

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2. Store your original documents safely

Items such as birth certificates, passports, wills, deeds and other legal documents are technically replaceable, but going through this process is no fun. There are many water and fire resistant document bags and storage boxes that are designed to withstand high heat exposure and can protect not only documents but also any small valuables that you hold dear.

Although products like these are only meant to withstand heat for a short time, they will protect contents from temperatures up to 1550°F.

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3. Make sure you are insured

There are only a few things you can take with you if you find yourself in an emergency evacuation situation, and when leaving valuables behind in a fire, it is essential to ensure that part can be replaced.

This is where the right type of insurance policy is essential. Depending on the circumstances, a traditional home insurance policy will protect against some damage from natural disasters, but it all depends on where you live and what situation you find yourself in.

Coverage in a flood zone, for example, is very different from coverage in a wildfire zone. In areas prone to certain types of disasters (particularly those exacerbated by climate change and occurring more frequently than in the past), insurers may even modify and reduce policies without the knowledge of their policyholders.

This practice has become so common that in 2021, California issued a moratorium preventing insurance companies from withdrawing coverage in high-risk areas).

As fire season approaches, check with your insurance provider to make sure your home and valuables are covered and that your coverage has not been reduced or removed.

4. Keep an inventory of your belongings

It may seem like a hassle to go through your entire home and make a list of everything you own, but in the event of a fire where many of your belongings are lost or destroyed, it will make it much easier to process your insurance claims. insurance.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests going room by room and slowing down, photographing belongings, or using an app like MyStuff2 Pro to keep track of your items. The organization also suggests keeping receipts for major appliances and valuables and keeping those receipts safe to keep a running list of items as you purchase them.

5. Create a fire barrier around your home

The most important safety precaution you can take to ensure the fire does not reach your home and valuables is to create a defensible space with fuel cuts, limited debris, and proper landscaping.

There are many chemical spray products that claim to provide additional fire protection to your home and property when applied to the exterior of your home, but it is essential to note that these types of products should only never be used in place of other security measures, but as a backup system of sorts.

Stacey SargentFrederick of the California Fire Science Consortium explains: “The biggest concern of fire professionals with gels and water sprinkler systems is that they can create a false sense of security, where people will set them up, but not support the effort. home reinforcement and defensible space mitigation that are far more tried and true with scientifically tested results.There are so many products that have sprung up in the market claiming to be flame retardant that it is hard to tell. assess which ones work and which ones don’t.

That’s not to say that these spray-on heat protectants are all bad, they should never be considered the first or only protection for your home.

Sergeant Frederic recommends, “Start with home hardening and vegetation management in the defensible space area. If you are looking to use a sprinkler system in addition to these, have a gravity fed system with a water supply. separate water (i.e. water tank or swimming pool) or the application of a non-toxic coating or gel could be considered, but without guarantee of effectiveness until we let’s have the science to back it up.”

While things like sprays seem like a quick and easy way to protect your valuables from the heat and flames of wildfires, unfortunately there is no quick version of fire safety. But, by using some of the tips above and being prepared, you can help minimize your losses and protect your valuables as best you can.

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