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CalFire’s New Tool Shows Exact Wildfire Risk by Address. What’s Your Home’s Score?

With historic wildfires tearing through many California towns in 2018, and many Californians witnessing devastating wildfires in places like Lahaina Maui, there’s a growing concern about personal wildfire risk.

A new free tool from CalFire allows you to enter the address of your home or business to obtain an exact score for your wildfire risk. This tool even provides color-coded maps that display areas of high or low risk throughout the state.

CalFire’s Mapping Tool

Maps existed before, but they were cumbersome. They were only provided as giant images in PDF documents, requiring users to scroll and locate their exact area.

The new tool, available through a free web interface, is much simpler. By entering your address, you can immediately identify the severity zone you’re in and view a map of nearby areas with varying risks.

Personally, I input my address and was relieved to find I was in a low-risk zone, possibly due to my proximity to a stream. However, other locations just a mile from my home presented a much higher risk.

It’s valuable information, especially if I plan to hike or spend time outdoors during wildfire season.

Find Your Risk Before Buying

This tool is also beneficial for individuals considering moving to the Bay Area or purchasing a home anywhere in California. Prospective buyers can quickly verify a property’s wildfire risk score, aiding in their decision-making process.

This isn’t only crucial for safety but also for insurance reasons. Many California insurers have been discontinuing policies for homes in high wildfire risk zones, leading to a significant increase in insurance costs.

It’s wise to review the score of a residence or business before investing to be fully aware of the potential risks. Keep in mind that these scores can vary annually based on vegetation levels, weather patterns, and major factors like climate change. Just because an area is low risk now doesn’t guarantee its safety indefinitely.

It’s advisable to revisit this tool annually, especially as wildfire season approaches. Everyone should be aware of the risks.

What To Do

If you reside in a high-risk zone, it’s even more essential to adopt the precautionary measures CalFire suggests. These recommendations include creating a defensible space, ensuring no flammable vegetation is close to your house, fitting smoke detectors, and registering for emergency alerts, among other crucial steps.

Check your home’s score today and prioritize these measures, especially if you’re in a high-risk zone. We also urge you to share this article on social media or with friends, so more people can assess their risk. Wildfires can impact all communities, so collective safety is achieved when everyone is informed and proactive in minimizing risks.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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