Although Alberta’s wildfire situation has improved considerably since May, when more than 30,000 residents were forced to leave their homes, there remains close to 100 fires burning in the province and the Community of Fox Lake is still under evacuation order.
Conditions throughout Canada are much the same, worsened by the fact that all 10 provinces are experiencing abnormal dryness, moderate or severe drought. As of the end of June, the highest number of current active fires was in Quebec, with 112. British Columbia had the second-highest number of active blazes with 94, followed by Alberta and Ontario. Tens of thousands have been evacuated across the country, with noxious smoke blanketing parts of the eastern United States and even making it as far as Europe.
Having to leave your home quickly is disconcerting, and having to remain away for an extended period of time leaves both properties and owners at risk. We remind all home insurance policy holders to check their coverage for funds to help take care of expenses related to emergency relocation.
Of course, if a wildfire has damaged your property, a home insurance claim should be filed, and there are many other ways your home insurance policy can help, as well.
Things to check on your property upon arrival
Local authorities will provide a detailed checklist to all evacuees to help prepare them for their arrival back home, and it’s very important to follow its guidelines. Many homeowners are not aware of the amount of care and attention it takes to ensure a home is safe again after a disaster, but assistance is available. It’s a good idea to have all technicians, inspectors, and tradespeople lined up ahead of time in order to get the work started as soon as possible.
As wildfires are most common in rural areas, it’s important to remember to bring lots of water with you when you return. Well water can become contaminated after a fire, especially if it was close by. Contamination can come from the fire itself, from products used to fight the fire, and from chemicals that seep into the water supply if machinery is damaged. Don’t use your well water to drink, cook, or bathe until after it has been flushed, disinfected, tested, and repaired, if necessary. Your home insurance policy will be able to assist with these sorts of expenses if costs run high.
It’s also a good idea to have your electrical system inspected shortly after returning. Extreme heat can easily damage wires. If your home was treated with water or fire-damaged at all, keep the electricity off until it has been inspected. Again, your home insurance policy may be used to help with needed repairs.
Although authorities have likely check all the gas lines in your area, be very cognizant of any off aromas and immediately contact your utility company if you detect the smell of gas.
What to do with your food, fridge and freezer
One of the last things people generally worry about when having to evacuate is their food, but it is often one of the first upon returning. Food left in a fridge with no power goes very bad, very quickly. If you have been gone for longer than 48 hours, all perishables should be thrown out, as bacteria from rotten food can easily move around from product to product.
As we all know how much a trip to the grocery store costs these days, the thought of replacing a fridge-full worth of food is a daunting one. In addition, your fridge and freezer will need to be thoroughly cleaned before it can be used again. In fact, it could even be contaminated to a point where it needs to be replaced.
Your fridge, freezer, and all of your food are covered for loss or damage caused by an accidental power interruption. Typically, your home insurance will cover for specified amount. Check your policy or call your insurance broker or provider to find out your limit.
Make a list of all of the food you are throwing out and take photos of your fridge and freezer for your insurance claim. Also check with your local municipality if there are any specified location for safe contaminated food disposal.
If your fridge and/or freezer has been so badly damaged that it can’t be cleaned and you think it needs replacement, let your insurance company know. They may require documentation or for an adjuster to make an assessment. Remember that chlorofluorocarbons must be properly removed before discarding the appliance. Call 311 in major cities or the local municipality in your area for details on how to properly discard a fridge and/or freezer.
Lane’s Insurance covers Alberta
Insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s work for you, not the insurance companies. We have access to a number of different policies from Canada’s best insurance providers, which we can compare to find you excellent coverage at great rates. When searching for your policy, we can help you determine the adequate amount of coverage for your property and your belongings and can ensure your policy provides for living expenses while necessary repairs are being carried out to your home after a disaster. Our experienced account managers are here to provide the personalized support you need. You can rely on your broker for the professional service necessary to help you make a smart, educated decision about your home insurance. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Alberta offices.