AUSTIN, TX - The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is urging homeowners to take immediate action if they have been impacted by the recent outbreak of fires.
The association asked that homeowners evacuate immediately if requested and contact their insurance company to begin their claims process.
"It's also important to note homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for additional living expenses that can move policyholders out of shelters and into a hotel room or rental property if you have been forced to evacuate your home," said Joe Woods, PCI vice president of state government relations.
Woods also said homeowners should take a precautionary inventory of their home to ensure they have the coverage necessary to rebuild if disaster strikes.
PCI also released a list of steps homeowners and renters can take to protect their home against fires, including:
• Create 100 feet of defensible space around your home by clearing dead brush, grass and shrubs. Defensible space can slow the spread of a fire and help keep firefighters safe.
• Clean out leaves, pine needles, and dirt that may have collected in rain gutters or on roofs.
• Cut back tree branches that hang over the house or near the chimney. Create 6 feet of clearance between the ground and tree branches.
• Consider landscaping with fire-resistant trees and shrubs, such as deciduous trees and low-growing shrubs.
• Remove any wood piles or wooden play houses against homes or structures.
• Keep operational fire extinguishers in kitchens.
• Install new batteries in fire and smoke alarms.
• Know building codes and use fire resistant materials.
• Create a family plan and hold family evacuation drills. Make sure your family knows what actions to take if a fire breaks out. Include plans for pets.
• Identify family valuables and treasures you can gather in a short time span.