With the last year's record warmth and dry conditions in California, 2014 could be an especially dangerous year for wildfires, the Association of California Insurance Companies warns.
Local governments are enforcing water rationing restrictions, and lakes and reservoirs are at historically low levels. Folsom Lake east of Sacramento is so low that visitors now can view the remains of the flooded Gold Rush town, Mormon Island.
"California grapples with a year-round fire season under normal conditions, but the lack of rain makes 2014 even more precarious," Armand Feliciano, the association's vice president, said in a press statement.
The association suggests that homeowners make sure they understand their home insurance policies and that their coverage is updated to meet their needs. They should also complete a home inventory of personal possessions. Having an accurate home inventory helps make the claims process go more smoothly.
To protect property from wildfire, fire officials advise that homeowners:
- Create defensive space. Vegetation should be cleared 30 to 100 feet from the home in all directions.
- Remove dead leaves and debris from the roof and rain gutters.
- Remove wood piles or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
- Trim trees so branches are six feet from the ground and at least 10 feet from other trees.
- Remove plants and other items that can catch fire under decks.
"In 2013, firefighters saw firsthand how homes that had 100 feet of debris clearance avoided damage as wildfire approached," Feliciano said.