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Protect your Property from Wildfires

2017-07-19 Emergency

The ongoing wildfires in BC and the losses in Fort McMurray last year are a constant reminder that wildfires are a real and present danger, especially if you live in a grasslands region or a heavily forested area. Wildfires are fast, change direction quickly, and are hard to contain. And thousands burn across Canada each year, threatening lives and properties. However, you can take measures to protect your property.

The first step is often the most effective : clear combustible debris from around the building. This includes obvious things like dry grass, leaves, brush, stacks of firewood, and debris — and some not-so-obvious things like a wood fence or even a wooden deck.

  • Thin or prune trees that are in close proximity to the building.
  • Defensible spaces or fire breaks should extend at least 30 feet out from a building, and large concentric rings of fuel reduction set further out improve the odds. The clearer the area, the better the chance a fire crew will be able to protect your property.
  • Vegetation should be cleared away from power lines, propane tanks, and other fuel supplies.
  • Providing good access to the property for emergency vehicles is a must.
  • Eaves and vent openings are a common place for embers to enter and ignite a building from the interior. Make sure they are cleaned of debris and properly screened.
  • Roofs can be a vulnerable area of a building in a fire. It is important that any combustible debris such as leaves and twigs are removed from the roof.
  • If you have a chimney, ensure it is regularly inspected and fitted with a spark arrestor screen.
  • Windows are also vulnerable, as the intense heat can penetrate and actually ignite drapes and furniture on fire. One alternative is to replace window fabrics with a more flame-resistant product. The best choice is installing outside non-combustible shutters which can be quickly closed in an emergency.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan which ensures employees and visitors know what to do in the event of a wildfire. Your plan should include possible exit routes and a safe place to meet if you need to evacuate.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit. Have a 72-hour kit ready before disaster strikes. It should include : water, nonperishable foods, battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, sturdy shoes, identification, cash and any special needs items.
  • Stay weather informed. Weather forecasts are vital in determining fire behaviour. For example, dry, hot and windy weather increases the risk of a wildfire. Pay attention to fire danger ratings to know the likelihood of a wildfire igniting in your region. Follow the instructions of your local authorities and take immediate action as instructed to protect you, your family and your property.
  • And finally if you are ordered to evacuate the area — and time permits ;
    • Shut off the natural gas supply and electricity to the building.
    • Close exterior windows and shut down the building ventilation system to reduce airflow and prevent smoke from circulating throughout the building.
    • Close all interior doors and fire separation doorways in hallways.
    • Lock entry doors to prevent unauthorized entry and possible looting.
    • Move vehicles away from the building.

Site References

Claims Contact

If your location is in close proximity to a wildfire and there is likelihood that your property will be affected, either directly or by neighbouring exposure, please notify us of this potential loss as soon as possible as follows :

Call during business hours

Annie Leong, National Claims Manager 604−605−1090
Rosario Ray, Senior Claims Specialist 403−268−7875

After Hours

Call our toll-free number 1−888−693−2253
Email claimsservices@eccles-ins.com

Your notification will allow us to set up a file and we can, in turn, follow up with you as events progress and help you during a very difficult situation. Please ensure to provide us with the following information :

  • Policy Number
  • Named Insured as indicated on the policy
  • Loss Location
  • Contact Information :
    • Name
    • Cell
    • Email
  • Secondary Contact Information :
    • Name
    • Cell
    • Email


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