Wildfires: What you need to know and how to prepare

During the summer and fall months, many Canadians may experience wildfires burning in their area. Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands or prairies. These dangerous fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildlife and natural areas, but also your home, business, or automobile. It’s important to be prepared to minimize the potential damage, know what to do in case of an emergency, and know what help is available if your home, business, or automobile is damaged.

Some steps you can take to prepare for a wildfire:

  • Prepare an emergency plan for your family and ensure everyone in your family knows the plan. Learn your evacuation routes and practice with your family, including pets to stay prepared.


  • Assemble an emergency preparedness kit. This kit should include water, non-perishable food, radio, flashlight, first aid kit, N95 masks for smoke and more. See a full list of items recommended by the Red Cross here.


  • Protect your home by removing any combustible material at least 1.5 meters away from your house, including cleaning and removing any debris from your gutters, roof, deck and balcony. Keep grass and weeds cut below 10cm.


  • Keep yourself updated on the weather and watch for wildfire warnings, including evacuation alerts and evacuation orders. Listen to radio or TV for the latest weather updates in your area.

Know what your insurance covers

It’s important to always read your insurance policies, so you know what coverage you have before you need it. Many disputes arise because consumers believe their insurance policy covers something when it does not.

If you’re unsure if your insurance policy covers damage related to wildfires, you can contact your insurer to have them confirm.

What to do if you suffered damage from a wildfire

Start a claim by contacting your insurance company. Make sure you include as much detail as possible about the damage.

If your insurance company is a GIO member, you can find out how to submit a claim or contact them in our member directory.

What to do if you are unhappy the results of your claim

If you’re unhappy with the results of your insurance claim or have questions about the process, GIO is here to help. We offer free, independent and impartial help with your home, auto and business insurance disputes. Find out how to submit a complaint.  

Additional resources to help you prepare:

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