With smoke from Canadian wildfires already settling in the Missoula valley, Montana’s State Insurance Commissioner and Auditor Matt Rosendale is encouraging Montanans to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

Rosendale there are three aspects of preparation to consider; before, during and after a fire. Before a fire, clean up debris and brush and fireproof the exterior of your home.

“You need to make sure to make an inventory of your personal property,” said Rosendale. “We have a checklist that is available on our website where you can go and make an inventory. You can keep that inventory on paper and make sure it’s in a fireproof box, or off site somewhere, or better yet, record it electronically and keep it on a cloud.”

Step two, during a fire, Rosendale said personal safety is the number one concern.

“During a fire it’s most important for folks to protect themselves and get out,” he said. “After you get out, keep all the receipts that you may generate if you’re ordered to evacuate, because a lot of those living expenses are going to be covered in the event of a mandatory evacuation,” he said. “But, you need to make sure that you keep track of all those receipts.”

When a resident returns to their home after a fire, Rosendale said to take stock of any damage.

“Keep track of everything, because there may be some additional things that may be covered that weren’t necessarily fire-damaged,” he said. “If you have smoke or retardant damage from when they dump retardant on your property, keep track of those things, as well. Take good photographs of it so that you can turn all that in and get credit.”

Not all insurance contracts are the same and the protections under a policy can vary greatly. It’s important that policyholders check with their insurance agents or insurance company to verify the protection available under their insurance policy.