American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Nicole Mahrt-Ganley     
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Nicole Mahrt Ganley







July 2, 2014

Celebrate July Fourth with Safety to Prevent Injuries and Fires

Extreme Drought Conditions Highlight Importance of Wildfire Precautions

CHICAGO – As Americans get ready for Fourth of July celebrations, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America reminds residents to enjoy the festivities, but exercise caution when it comes to the use of fireworks in order to prevent injuries and property damage.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there are more fires reported on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year and one third of those fires are caused by fireworks.  Above normal wildfire potential and drought conditions continue particularly in Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

“Low water levels and extreme drought conditions in many states makes fire safety even more crucial this year,” said Christopher Hackett, director of personal lines for PCI.  “One ember from a camp fire or firework can travel and ignite a fire a mile away. It is critical that people follow state laws and take extra precautions to avoid causing preventable fires.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms during calendar year 2012.  5,200 of these injuries occurred between June 22 and July 22, 2012.  The National Interagency Fire Center states humans cause 62,631 fires each year.

“Fireworks are a great way for charities to raise funds and make childhood memories, but they can get out of control and turn fun into tragedy very quickly,” says Hackett. “Let the Fourth be a reminder to not only prevent wildfires but also prepare our homes and family finances for catastrophes.  Follow some simple steps to mitigate risks and fortify your financial defenses by updating your insurance policy.”

Wildfire Financial Preparedness Tips:


  • Review Your Policy Regularly – Review your property insurance policy with your insurance company or agent. If you have recently remodeled or built a new addition onto your property, be sure to increase the amount of protection to cover the changes to the property. If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain coverage.  Make sure your policy has the correct square footage of your home.


  • Keep an Inventory − To speed claims processing, keep an inventory of your possessions and photograph or videotape them for documentation purposes. After a fire, list the items that were destroyed or damaged along with a brief description that includes receipts, appraisals, and the age, current value, make, model and serial number of items.


  • Get Renters Insurance – If you rent your home or apartment consider buying renters insurance.  Many insurers bundle renters coverage with auto insurance policies for an affordable premium.


  • Understand Your Policy - Homeowners need to understand the type of policy they have. There are two kinds of policies:  A replacement cost policy will generally repair or replace covered personal property damaged by an insured peril.  While an actual cash value policy only provides reimbursement for the depreciated value of covered personal property.  Coverage for earthquake damage is typically available as an optional endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. California residents can purchase earthquake coverage from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).


Physical Preparedness Tips – For more physical preparedness tips check out:


  • Create Defensive Space − For those living in high fire hazard areas, the best protection is defensive space. Clear the land around dwellings of all vegetation. Experts recommend that the cleared area extend at least 30 to 100 feet from the dwelling in all directions.
  • Remove dead leaves and debris from roof or rain gutters.
  • Remove wood piles or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Trim trees so branches are a minimum of 10 feet from other threes.  Embers are a major cause of spreading fires.
  • Remove vegetation and items that can catch fire under decks.


Fire Prevention Tips –


·         Don’t toss burning cigarettes out into dry brush areas.

·         Don’t light fireworks near dry brush; keep buckets of water nearby.

·         Be sure campfires are completely put out and doused with water and cannot relight.

·         Be careful with controlled burns, severe weather can cause a normal burn to become out of control.

·         Be cautious with mowing equipment on dry brush – one spark can ignite a wildfire.



PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $190 billion in annual premium, 40 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 46 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 32 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41 percent of the private workers compensation market.