European heat wave compounds wildfire danger 

Less than one month after an historic heat wave gripped more than half of Europe, another far-reaching heat wave is leaving a lasting effect on many of the same locations this week, with at least 12 countries reaching record-setting temperatures. The intense heat and dry conditions have also elevated the risk for wildfires across the region.

How can you and your clients defend property in these extreme circumstances?

In recent years, we’ve seen how large forest fires have affected countries in central and northern Europe. The increased incidence of winter drought and summer heat increases the risk of fires in countries that are not historically accustomed to this type of catastrophe; major fires have impacted Spain, Greece and Germany over the past several weeks, and fire risk stretches across the continent.

According to the Copernicus programme, nearly 1,400 fires hit Europe through the end of June compared to an annual average of 174 in the same period over the past ten years. And most recently, several large wildfires broke out across central Portugal this weekend. The fires were blamed for more than 30 injuries, multiple evacuations and destroyed homes. With temperatures blazing and strong winds being reported, parts of the country were called for evacuation.

In the last years, the wildfire season has lasted longer than before, stretching from May or June through to October. With the danger of wildfires disrupting Europe, how can we improve resistance to wildfire damage? Here are several tips for property owners to keep in mind:

  • Keep a clean perimeter security strip without any trees or shrubs around property in the vicinity of forest stands. The depth of the perimeter should be a minimum of the height of the trees in the area.
  • During a heatwave, or when there is a high risk of fire, do not barbecue in areas close to forests.
  • Do not try to extinguish a forest fire in the vicinity of your property; let the trained emergency services act as part of their coordinated response.
  • Stay in your home until an evacuation order is given.
  • When an order to evacuate is given, move quickly, taking only the essentials with you and following the instructions of the emergency services.
  • Do not call emergency services unless it is a real emergency due to the lines becoming easily saturated during these periods.

Considering the increased risk of fires across European countries, it is crucial to understand and further encourage behaviour for keeping people and property safe. Sedgwick’s team is dedicated to helping our business partners and those impacted by the wildfires; we are ready to respond in times of catastrophe. Please connect with us if we can provide support.  

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