The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has released a statement reminding property owners in Southern California that the Santa Ana winds are bringing a serious risk of wildfires with them, and that certain precautions should be taken.
The National Weather Service has announced that the region could be affected by another significant shove by the winds, which can gust at more than 60 miles per hour.
According to an IBHS senior Scientist, Dr. Steve Quarles, “Santa Ana winds are generally warm and dry, creating tinderbox conditions, but even when temperatures are cooler, they can be a problem.” He added that when those winds blow, there is a much higher risk of wildfire, as it can spread them much more quickly than they would on their own, and in a way that is much more challenging to control.
In October 2007, the Santa Ana winds fueled the San Diego County Witch Creek Mega Fire, which resulted in property damage worth approximately one billion dollars in destroyed commercial properties and homes.
There are three primary risks to a building from wildfires, which include:
• Direct contact with flames
• Radiant heat
• Firebrands, which are embers caught in the wind.
Property owners should consider each of these factors when examining their homes or businesses in terms of potential exposure to wildfires. This can help them to make decisions that will limit their vulnerability and help with California insurance company’s requirements.
According to Dr. Quarles, the most important risk is the exposure to firebrands, which can ignite parts of a structure, its contents, or items around or adjacent to the property, such as vegetation. Direct flame or radiant heat exposure can then result.