Advance planning critical

Published by The Denver Post


Before the threat of a fire

Complete an annual insurance checkup

Learn what your policy covers and do an annual assessment of the value of your home, including additions and building materials, making sure your policy covers 100 percent of its estimated replacement costs.

Complete a home inventory

•Download free inventory software or forms at Scroll to the bottom of the page and follow the prompts.


•Make a complete list of your possessions, including where you bought them, the make and model, and any appraisals you may have. For major appliances, record the serial number, usually found on the bottom or back of the item, and appraise or keep receipts for more expensive items such as jewelry, artwork and collectibles.


•Take photos of rooms and individual items, date and label the photos, and store them in something that would be easy to carry.


Know where your essential documents are stored:

Have all these documents or items ready to go in an easy-to-carry box, Safe Deposit Box, or stored with a friend or relative where you will be staying in another part of the state in the event of a fire:


•A copy of your inventory

•Your insurance policy and contact information for your insurer

•Social Security cards

•Driver’s licenses

•Credit cards

•Vehicle titles


•Health insurance cards

•Backup of critical information from home desktop computers, saved to portable drive

•Marriage license

•Birth certificates

•Vaccination and registration records for pets coming with you

•Cellphone and computer-charging cables


Create a disaster kit

Include drinking water, change of clothes and shoes for each person, a blanket or sleeping bag for each person, a first- aid kit, prescription medications, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, gloves, extra set of car keys and eyeglasses.


Have a disaster plan for your pets:

•Make arrangements in advance for where you and pets would go in the event of an evacuation.

•Keep your animals’ registrations current, including contact information.

•Keep pet supplies and shelter information in your evacuation kit.

•Prepare an evacuation kit for larger animals such as horses, including wire cutters, bandage scissors, elastic wrap, towels, cotton bandages, surgical tape, duct tape and compresses.

•Prepare hay, grain and supplements in a separate container. Include enough supplies to last 10 to 14 days.

When fire approaches

•Grab your “evacuation box” of important documents and disaster kits for you and your pets.

•Notify your insurance company immediately. Let them know where you are going and how to reach you.

•Park vehicles that you can’t take with you in a garage, with the keys in the ignition. Close the garage door, but leave it unlocked so crews can move the vehicles if the structure becomes threatened.

•Move yard furniture away from the house or store it in the garage.

•Cover openings with fire-resistant materials to keep sparks from blowing in.

•Attach garden hoses to spigots and fill trash cans and buckets with water. Leave both in a place where firefighters can find them.

•Close all doors inside the home and shut off liquefied petroleum gas or natural-gas valves.

•Move furniture away from windows and remove curtains or blinds.

•When evacuating, wear long pants, sturdy shoes, cotton or wool clothing, and a long-sleeved shirt

•Several insurance policies include an “additional living expenses” clause. This covers a certain amount of your out-of-pocket expenses if you are ordered to evacuate. Save your receipts.

If your home is damaged in the fire

•Contact your insurance company and schedule a meeting with a claims adjuster. Someone will inspect the damage and might give you a check to help cover repairs. The first check is likely an advance and not the final payment. Sometimes companies will offer an “on-the-spot” settlement payment, but you can reopen the claim if you find additional damage.

•Typically you receive two checks, one for structural damage and the other for personal belongings, which is why it is important to complete a home inventory.

•Take inventory and photos of any damages and losses. Make temporary repairs, but save receipts for all the materials, as they will likely be reimbursed.

•Include all damage, from smoke damage — the most common claim — to food spoilage.

Jordan Steffen, The Denver Post