Local insurance providers, FEMA provide tips for protecting property from wildfires

In the event of an uncontrolled fire, protecting your property may be impossible. But insurers say there are several things homeowners can do to minimize damage and keep your home safe.

Wildfires have become common as many areas of Texas are under fire restrictions, including Gregg County and surrounding areas of East Texas. Firefighters have been pushed to max responding to fire after fire, with many destructive flames hundreds of acres of property.

East Texas insurance agent Collin Phaup said homeowners should talk to their insurance agent to make sure their home is covered in case of fire damage. Phaup, owner and licensed insurance consultant for Goosehead Insurance, said even the most basic policies can cover fire, as it is the number one risk in homeowners’ policies.

Phaup said his organization has spoken with several affected customers to ensure that the fire from outside the building is following their policy.

“It is important for the agent to educate their clients on the issues that are included in the client’s policy, as well as what is contained within the policy,” said Phaup.

Phaup recommends that homeowners with a home plan also know your carrier’s phone number and your policy number. He also suggested that you record videos of your products and send them to yourself or your agent. The worst time to try and take stock of everything you have is after a disaster when your thoughts and feelings are out of whack.

Phaup said homeowners should keep flammable items such as lawnmowers, oil or gas cans, propane tanks and wood piles at least 30 feet from the home at all times. They also recommend moving combustibles, such as lawn chairs and toys, during wildfires and mulching with flammable plants within five feet of the home and placing non-combustible materials over them.

In the most recent fire in the Lindale area, flames spread to neighboring properties, across pastures, and burned about a quarter mile along County Road 492 (Ann Campbell Road) near the Swan community. The fire has burned 20 bales of hay, threatened a house and destroyed two cars. The horses also had to be moved.

FEMA says homeowners can protect property from wildfires by reinforcing your roof. According to FEMA, roofs are the most vulnerable to wildfires because of their size and structure. FEMA also says that your home’s chances of surviving a wildfire depend largely on your home’s construction and the materials used. Installing or replacing your roof with a Class A roof with fireproof insulation can help protect your home, according to FEMA recommendations.

FEMA also recommends installing and replacing shingles and shingles because wildfires can cause flames to fly over the edge of your roof, potentially starting a fire. For fire protection, cover the exterior and interior openings with 1/8-inch steel wire to prevent fire penetration. FEMA also suggested installing a fire extinguisher in the gap between the framed walls and the foundation of the building to starve the fire of oxygen and prevent the spread.

In addition, FEMA said it regularly cleans and removes debris from roofs and gutters because debris can catch fire in wind-driven fires.

FEMA also suggests the following:

  • Install and replace outer coverings
  • Create 30 meters of protected space around your home
  • Always clean and remove debris from the roof and gutters
  • Close your base
  • Improve access to water
  • Protect large windows from bright heat
  • Put up visible street signs and house addresses
  • Seal gaps around exterior walls and roofs
  • Inside the house check your insurance
  • Edit or update your home inventory

For more and more information on protecting your home, visit www.bit.ly/femawildfiretips .