Insurers Urge Extra Precautions with Fireworks in Wildfire-prone States this Fourth of July
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – There is an elevated risk for wildfires this Fourth of July and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges residents, particularly those in wildfire-prone states, to be extra cautious with the use of fireworks.
Dry conditions in the West have prompted some communities in Arizona and Colorado to cancel or impose restrictions on fireworks displays out of an abundance of caution. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a ban on fires and fireworks on many state lands.
“All that it takes is one wind-blown ember from a campfire or firework to ignite a blaze,” said Chris Hackett, senior director of personal lines policy for PCI. “With 53 active wildfires charring thousands of acres of land in nine states, it is critical that people follow state and federal fireworks laws and take extra precautions to avoid causing preventable fires.”
On average each year, fireworks start 18,500 fires, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires, reports the National Fire Protection Association. Engaging in fire safety, taking time to prevent and reduce damage and becoming financially prepared by conducting an insurance checkup are critical this time of year.
“Let the Fourth be a reminder to not only prevent wildfires, but also prepare our homes and family finances for catastrophes,” added Hackett. “Taking simple steps like preparing a home inventory, updating your insurance and clearing debris around the home can make a difference if a wildfire breaks out. Insurers prepare year-round to tackle fire risks and are prepared to assist homeowners and renters. If your home is damaged by a wildfire, the first step to recovery is contacting your agent or insurance company and starting the claims process. One phone call starts the road to rebuilding.”
Key Fire Safety Tips from the US Forest Service
- Only use fireworks in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings
- Soak all firework devices with water before disposing in the trash
- Do not bring fireworks or other explosive devices, including sparklers, onto federal lands
- Attend campfires at all times and keep water and a shovel nearby
- Put out a campfire to the point it is cool to the touch
- Build campfires only in cleared open areas
- When smoking, always dispose of cigarette debris in some type of an ashtray
- Avoid driving and parking in tall grass, exhaust particles, hot exhaust pipes and hot catalytic converters can start grass fires
Wildfire Reality Check - Quick Tips on Financial Preparedness
Tip 1: Conduct an Annual Insurance Check Up
Call your agent or insurance company to discuss your policy limits and coverage annually. Make sure your policy reflects the right square footage and materials of your home. Consider purchasing building code upgrade coverage.
Tip 2: Know What Your Policy Covers
The details matter. Understand if you have a replacement cost policy that pays to replace your covered personal property items at current market price; or an actual cash value policy that takes depreciation into account and pays less for aged items.
Tip 3: Update Your Policy to Cover Home Improvements
If you make home improvements, be sure to call your agent or company to update your coverage. Make sure your insurer knows about the changes so the new tile or room is covered if you must rebuild.
Tip 4: Maintain Insurance
If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain homeowners insurance. Do not be caught after a fire with no way to rebuild your home. Check with loved ones with paid off homes to be sure they continue to carry homeowners insurance.
Tip 5: Get Renters Insurance
Renters can lose everything in a fire just like homeowners. Many auto insurers bundle renters’ insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy for very affordable prices.