The NWACA Newsletter has provided articles for about two years on how to protect your home and property from urban wildfires…however, there are times when you can’t stop fate and your home is destroyed by fire. So how do you protect your most valuable belongings?
One way is to insure your valuables to the maximum (jewelry, cameras, electronics, furs, important papers, etc.). However, many insurance companies have jewelry and other valuables separated within the homeowner policy, or they cover them in a separate policy. Also, they may require that you have an appraisal of these items, after which they charge a special, higher price to insure the items.
In my profession as an Architect over the years I have worked with the people at Cothron’s Security Professionals on building security issues. I recently approached them about the Bastrop wildfire of 2011 and found that Cothron’s had helped several of those residents open their safes after the fire to retrieve their valuables. Apparently, many of those safes were built to stop burglars but were not fire-rated. Of all of the safes they inspected, only one had protected its valuable contents, and it was a safe inside of another larger safe. The remainder had significant fire damage to both the safes and the contents, or the safes had experienced high enough temperatures to cause the contents to ignite and/or melt within the safe.
Most security and locksmith companies carry UL fire-rated and factory fire-test-certified safes that should keep valuables safe during urban wildfires as well as other types of fires. They also protect valuables from common thieves and burglars, of course. You might want to compare the insurance up-charge to cover your valuables with the cost and installation of a fire-rated safe. I will be doing just that!
Al Simmons, July 2015