Wildfire Season: Maintain Your Response Plan Annually

June 30, 2021

Actions and planning during the off-season impact how well you are ready to weather another wildfire season.

In the past few years, the U.S. mainland has experienced bigger and more frequent wildfire activity. Read below for timely advice on wildfires.


  • Know where to go
  • Be familiar with evacuation routes
  • Enroll in your community’s emergency alert service

Facing a Wildfire

  • Prepare an emergency supply kit
    • Assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit throughout the wildfire season. Include items that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. Store your kit in a place commonly known to all family members.
  • Keep important documents in a fireproof container
  • Sign up for your community’s emergency warning system
    • Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alerts.
  • Have an outside water source that can reach any area of your property
  • Have a two-minute evacuation plan and practice it
    • Know your community’s evacuation plan, alternate routes, and means of transportation in the event of an emergency.
  • Address landscaping concerns and create fire-resistant zones

Keep property clear of flammable debris at least 30 feet from your home and 200 feet from your neighbor. See below:

Planning During COVID-19

There are additional challenges with planning due to the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 exposure.

  • Individuals with compromised heart and lung function from COVID-19 may be at greater risk from wildfire smoke
  • Check with local officials about shelter spaces which may have been altered due to COVID-19

Continue to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic Information

Resource Websites:

If You Are Under Wildfire Warning, Get to Safety Immediately:

  • Evacuate if instructed to do so
  • If trapped, call 911
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts
  • Use N95 masks to prevent breathing in harmful particles

Take Caution Even if Your Home is Not in the Path of a Wildfire

  • Wildfires can travel 100 yards per second
  • Smoky conditions can be as dangerous as fire
  • Keep indoor pollution levels low by using a portable air cleaner

After the Wildfire

  • Keeping you and your family safe
    • Be aware of new safety issues. Avoid hot ash, smoldering debris, and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or even spark another fire
  • Listen to authorities to find out when it is safe to return and whether water is safe to drink
  • If you and your family are safe, consider text messages or social medical to reach out to family and friends
    • Phone systems are often busy during and after an emergency. Consider those in extreme danger.
  • Never assume fire-damaged structures are stable; they may have structural damage
  • Personal health and hygiene protection
    • Wear a NIOSH certified respirator
    • Wet debris to minimize breathing harmful dust particles
    • Keeping hands clean during an emergency helps prevent the spread of germs. If your tap water is not safe to use, wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

Cleaning Tips

  • Products containing tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) can reduce odors in fabrics. Test garments before using any treatment and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use a mixture of 4-6 tbsp TSP and 1 cup of household cleaner or chlorine bleach to every gallon of warm water to remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture, and floors. Surfaces should then be rinsed with clean warm water.
  • Wear rubber gloves, and consider protective eyewear and a respirator.

Insurance Recovery

  • Documentation is key
    • Photograph as much as possible
    • Keep an inventory of everything that is lost and/or discarded due to health reasons
  • Have your homeowners and other insurance policy numbers related to your property readily available.
  • Notify your carrier as soon as possible and contact Oswald
    • Oswald has relationships with contractors who can assist in these situations. If you cannot access your carrier, contact Oswald Companies at (216) 367-8787 as soon as possible!

For more information, please contact me directly or learn more on our Property & Casualty page.

Marcco Gambatese
Property Claims Advocate


Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.