null Wildfires: What you need to know

While the wildfires rage in different parts of our country, we want to assure all the communities and every individual affected by this crisis that we are here to support you through this difficult time. We ask that you remain vigilant and follow the recommendations issued by Public Safety Canada and by your municipality. 

We’re here to help you — this is our top priority. If you need to make a claim, go to your Online Services or call us at: 

If you are in Quebec: 1-866-776-8343

Outside Quebec: 1-888-785-5502

If you have home insurance with us, you may also be covered for:  

  • Living expenses after an evacuation order (hotel or meal costs, for example), depending on your policy. 
  • Loss of food stored in fridges and freezers after a power outage. 
  • Property damage as a direct result of fire, smoke or soot.

Certain limitations or exclusions may apply. Insureds must make a claim online or contact their insurer to verify their coverages.  

Rest assured; we will assist all policyholders through the claims process.  

Policyholders in financial difficulties may also be entitled to certain payment relief measures. Members and clients will need to call Payment Services to discuss their options and find the solution that best meets their needs.

Preventing fires and damage

If you live in a grassland or forest area, you’ll need to take some precautions during the wildfire season.

How to avoid accidentally causing a wildfire 

  • Respect campfire bans in effect and report any open fires you see to local fire authorities. Depending on the province, fines for not respecting fire bans can be substantial.
  • If there aren’t any fire bans in effect and you’re lighting open fires, keep a shovel/rake and a bucket of water on hand so you can fully extinguish the fire.
  • Are you a smoker? Make sure cigarettes or other smoking materials are fully extinguished in water, not on the ground.
  • Visually check overhead electrical lines; quickly report any lines touching trees to hydro authorities.

How to make your home less vulnerable to wildfires

Burning embers can travel several kilometres from the main wildfire. To make your home more fire-resistant and increase the probability that it will survive, you can follow some simple but essential measures. If your neighbours apply these measures as well, the benefits will add up fast and help your community bounce back more quickly after a devastating wildfire. Go ahead and share this information with your neighbours!

Examples of simple measures:

  • Around your home and outbuildings (e.g., shed, garage), within 1.5 metres of outside walls: Rake up and get rid of any accumulation of pine needles, dead leaves and wood/bark/cedar chips. Remove dead branches from shrubs and hedges. Preferably, remove evergreen shrubs.
  • Lawn and yard: Mow dry grass and weeds, and water your lawn if permitted. If you have any evergreens on your property, trim the branches so that the lowest ones are 2 metres above ground. Clean up any piles of needles at tree bases.
  • Balconies and wooden decks: Sweep the surfaces or use a power washer to remove dead leaves and pine needles accumulated on, under or between deck boards.
  • Flammable objects and materials: Move building materials, firewood, machinery, RVs, ATVs and recycling, compost or garbage bins at least 10 metres away from any structure (or store them indoors in a safe and proper location). Store oil or gas containers, paint cans or propane tanks in a shed or garage.
  • Roof and gutters: Remove any accumulation of dead leaves, pine needles and other debris. Trim any tree branches near your roof by taking the necessary protective measures.

Examples of measures requiring more effort:

  • Attic vents, loose soffits, and gaps around doors and windows or at ground level: Repair them and, if you can do so safely, block any visible openings that could allow burning embers to enter your home or outbuildings. For example, you can use a 3-millimetre metal mesh screening or duct tape.
  • Evergreen trees located within 30 metres of structures: Trim branches so that the lowest ones are 2 metres above ground and clean up any piles of needles at the tree bases. Make sure there’s enough space between the trees on your property. Space evergreens at least 5 metres from your home and 10 metres apart.
  • Juniper and cedar shrubs: If they are within 5 metres of your home or shed, replace them with less flammable, moisture-laden deciduous shrubs.
  • Wooden fence attached to your home: Place a non-combustible gate or fence section next to your home.
  • Wood chips, bark or rubber mulch in flowerbeds: Replace them with non-combustible alternatives like pebbles (river stones), or only use them for islands located well away from any structures or flammable vegetation.
  • Combustible wooden roof: Plan ahead to replace it with asphalt or other fire-proof roofing.

Other measures if you live in a rural area or on a farm: 

  • Rake up and remove accumulated evergreen needles and leaves within 5 metres of buildings.
  • Cut and rake up cured tall grasses and weeds within 5 metres of all buildings.
  • Consider setting up a back-up water supply system and a separate power source.
  • Extend recommended tree spacing to 30–40 metres on all sides of your home and outbuildings. 

You can also refer to these tips for homeowners on how to reduce wildfire risks.

What to do if a wildfire is detected in your area

If a wildfire is expected to occur near your home, obey the warnings and evacuation orders from public authorities in your province and municipality.

If you have enough time and you’re able to do so safely, you can make your home less vulnerable to a wildfire.

Top 5 things to do to protect your home

  1. Double check decks, balconies and the perimeter of all buildings: Remove flammable objects (e.g., patio furniture, brooms, firewood, recycling bins, propane tanks) around, on or under these structures. Put these objects, as well as machinery and RVs/ATVs at least 10 metres away from any building. Store valuable items indoors in a safe and proper location.
  2. Block ember entry sites: Identify openings outside your home (e.g., attic vents, loose soffits, and gaps around doors and windows or at ground level). Repair them or cover them temporarily with duct tape or metal if you can do so safely.
  3. Trim grass and weeds: Mow grass within 5 metres of all structures and along wooden fences and borders. Make sure to rake up and dispose of cuttings, pine needles, leaves, dead branches and trimmings at least 10 metres away from your home.
  4. Connect garden hoses to outside water valves: Make sure that they can be easily accessed by firefighters and that they are long enough to reach all corners of your property.
  5. Close your windows if you leave your home.

For more information

Wildfires: Before, During & After, Canadian Red Cross

Get Prepared – Before a wildfire, Government of Canada

Wildfires: What you need to know

While the wildfires rage in different parts of our country, we want to assure all the communities and every individual affected by this crisis that we are here to support you through this difficult time. 

These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and The Personal cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.