Last year, over 56,000 wildfires burned 2.6 million acres, destroying over 4,300 home and commercial structures across the United States. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 4,318 structures were destroyed by wildfires in the United States in 2023, including the devastating fire that destroyed 2,207 structures in Lahaina, Hawaii, the most devastating fire in modern US history.

May is wildfire prevention awareness month across the US. According to insurer State Farm, the best way to protect yourself from loss related to a wildfire is to prepare ahead for the unexpected. The company released a list of simple projects to help mitigate loss from a wildfire.

  • Create a 5-foot non-combustible barrier between your home and any vegetation on your property. This recommended border is extended to 30 ft in wildfire areas.
    • Trim overhanging trees, branches and other foliage.
    • Remove vines from house walls.
    • Pick up debris in your yard. Anything flammable should be removed like pine needles, pine cones and more.
  • Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters.
  • Cover vents and openings with wire mesh to prevent embers from entering the home.
  • Install ember and fire-resistant soffit vents.
  • Treat wooden fencing with fire retardant or consider replacing with fire resistant materials.
  • Replace mulch landscaping with rock.
  • Create a home inventory. A home inventory can expedite insurance claims process after theft, damage or loss. The easiest way to do a home inventory is using technology to create a digital copy:
    • Take pictures. Capture important individual items as well as entire rooms, closets or drawers. Label your photos with what’s pictured, where you bought it, the make or model and the serial number. Don’t forget the garage and even your possessions outside.
    • Take video. Walk through your house or apartment recording and describing the contents. For example, you might describe the contents of a kitchen cabinet: “Poppies on Blue by Lenox, service for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, cup and saucer, purchased in 2015.”
    • Use an app. There are many mobile app options that can help you create and store a room-by-room record of your belongings.
  • Talk to your insurance agent. Meet with your agent at least annually to help you make sure you have adequate coverage for your individual needs.

We can’t always prevent wildfires, but with an increase in fire occurrences, there is much more attention focused on fire safety. Use these tips to be better prepared at home in case a wildfire approaches your area.

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