5 steps you need to take now to get ready for a disaster:
What would you do if you had 5 minutes or less to evacuate? The recent fires throughout the state are a keen reminder of the steps we all need to take in order to protect ourselves, our families, and our largest asset.
You are probably wondering why a private lender like myself is writing about wildfires (this is applicable to any area where there is a forest/urban interface) as wildfires are not bound to just the mountains (recall the devastating fires in Colorado Springs a few years back).
Having experienced this chilling exercise to evacuate due to fires, I put together 5 simple and quick steps everyone should take today. Also, having lost multiple properties as a result, I’ve also included information on what happens after a disaster.
Below is an excerpt from the 2013 fires I had written about that killed multiple people in the foothills:
I had just come back to the house and looked out the kitchen window to a large dark plume of smoke. It was quickly apparent that this fire was moving quickly. We had gusts to 40mph with no rain in the past couple weeks. As I stood there mesmerized by how quickly the smoke was drifting our direction, we got the level 3 evacuation notice which is the highest evacuation order, it basically meant we had under 5 minutes to grab our belongings and go.
There was no time to spare. We lived in a hand hewn log home that definitely wasn’t built to withstand a fire. Furthermore, our house was located in a heavily wooded area that was very steep, these conditions would enable a fire to take off very quickly and put both life and property in danger almost immediately. A number of folks actually perished in this fire. Unfortunately all of these deaths were preventable with some basic steps.
The recent fires in Nederland and throughout the front range were a good reminder of how quickly things can turn bad. As a result, 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).
One side note: 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. 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 have a 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. The rebuild cost can (and in many cases is substantially higher than your current market value) 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…), different features, 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 that strikes near them. Feel free to pass this on to your associates or link to it on my blog www.coloradohardmoney.com
Also below are some additional resources to help:
When looking at your insurance it is critical to understand the coverage you have:
Here is quick guide that talks about tax value, replacement value, insured value, etc.. and what each means and why it is critical you understand what this means for your property: https://coloradohardmoney.com/2013/06/17/valuation_methods/
What really happens after a fire or other catastrophic loss?
So what really happens after the embers have cooled and there is a loss? How does the lender factor into the payout? Are you prepared if this were to happen to you? Read More: https://www.fairviewlending.com/blog/5-tips-to-mitigate-the-property-economic-loss-from-a-natural-disaster/
Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
Fairview is a hard money lender specializing in private money loans / non-bank real estate loans in Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida. They are recognized in the industry as the leader in hard money lending with no upfront fees or any other games. Learn more about Hard Money Lending through our free Hard Money Guide. To get started on a loan all they need is their simple one page application (no upfront fees or other games).