You are probably wondering why a private lender like myself is writing about wildfires in Colorado (the below is applicable to almost anyone in the western states). As a Colorado resident (my family and I live in Evergreen), we recently went through the evacuation process earlier this week. We could see the recent fire off our rear deck (it was probably about a mile away with some nice wind so there was concern the fire was going to take off). We got the level 3 evacuation notice (see below for what they look like). Fortunately our house is fine and we are back in. I wanted to share some key learnings with each of you since I’ve now experienced a number of evacuations (this is not some canned list I found online). Many people don’t realize that a wildfire is not bound to just mountainous areas. For example, the fire in CO Springs last year was not far out of downtown and hundreds of homes were lost in a matter of hours (there have been wildfires in the past in boulder city limits, castle rock, etc…). Are you prepared? Here are 5 tips to help prepare yourself and your family for a situation like this. These steps should be taken now.
1) Make sure you actually sign up for your counties reverse 911, many of the county systems are just plain wrong with their location software. If you do not make sure your info is accurate, you may never get the phone call to evacuate. In your county system log in and confirm your address, put in your cell phones, office, e-mail, etc… I can tell you we don’t typically answer our home phone so you want to get the notification
2) Take time before a fire to think about what you would take if you had 10 minutes to load up and leave. Make a list of the items and stick to the list (in the wildfires last year, there were some folks who did not leave immediately and tried to load up one more item… some didn’t make it out). For my family, we actually created a “fire box” with important docs, pictures, etc… all in one big bin that we can grab and go if needed. There is a list on top of the box so we don’t forget certain items. Laptop, wallet, keys, medications, etc… We also have two young kids, we need to make sure we had their blankets and other items. Also, don’t forget about the pets (we have two large shepherds) and any items they require
3) Think about the route you would take to exit your neighborhood or area. In the case of our neighborhood, there are at least 3 or 4 ways out to access a main street. Think how you would exit quickly if one of the routes was blocked?
4) Is your insurance up to date? If you look historically at the recent fires throughout Colorado, one of the biggest issues is that a number of the houses lost were considerably underinsured. I went through an exercise this winter with my insurance agent where I went through each room in the house and designated floor coverings (hardwood, carpet, etc..), upgrades (rock fireplace, new cabinets, etc…). After going through this exercise I found out I was about 30% under replacement cost, I subsequently increased my insurance to cover this. Understand that replacement cost could be more than the current market value of your house
5) Use common sense. It is amazing how some people react in situations. I saw one of my neighbors as we were pulling out of our driveway loading up his car to the brim; he had lamps, pillows, etc… I can tell you I wouldn’t risk my life for a lamp. At the end of the day property is replaceable.
I hope the above 5 tips gets everyone thinking so they are better prepared if a wildfire or other disaster strikes near them. Feel free to pass this on to your associates or link to it on my blog www.cohardmoney.com
The evacuation notice we got from the Sheriff’s office (the fire is out fortunately)
6/3/2013 5:04:22 PM EST – This is Jefferson County Sheriff Office we are working a wildland fire in your area we are issues a Level 3 Evacuation A Level 3 Evacuation means leave immediately. Danger in your area is current and imminent. There is no time to gather belongings. Leave immediately. If you need to go to a shelter please go to Conifer High School If you need help please call 911