Having homeowner insurance is one way you can protect your greatest asset, and it’s also vital, if you rent, to cover your belongings in the case of fire, theft, and other losses.
Of course the best way to secure your home and belongings against fire loss is to prevent fire in the first place. Here are some fire safety tips you can put to use today.
Use and Check Smoke Detectors
One of the best ways to avoid fire is to use smoke detectors inside your home to alert you to the first signs of fire. Adding sprinklers can provide even greater protection.
In some places, local building codes dictate where you should, at minimum, place your smoke detectors to cover your entire home area. You can also ask your local fire department for suggestions.
Be sure to check your smoke detectors regularly and replace the batteries as needed if the alarms are not hardwired to your home’s electrical system.
Fix Faulty Wiring
Faulty electrical wiring is a major cause of home fires every year in the United States. Outdated wiring, shoddy repair work, and chewing from animals like rodents can all cause electrical problems.
Signs your wiring needs evaluation include:
- Flickering lights
- Outlets not working
- Ground fault outlets that trigger repeatedly
- Power going out suddenly with no external cause
- Visibly worn, broken, or detached wires
- Outlets that have smoke stains or blackened areas
- Melted plugs on electronics
- Smell of smoke when using certain appliances or outlets
In the wintertime, remember that holiday lights also need checking. Replace any light strings that flicker or appear worn out.
Clean and Inspect Your Chimney
Chimney fires are another common source of home fires. Every year, have your chimney and fireplace box inspected to maintain its integrity, including the ember screen at the top and the flue. If you use a wood stove for heat, inspect that as well, along with its piping.
Dispose of ash and embers in an enclosed metal container outside, where they cannot catch anything on fire, not in the trash or in the garden.
While you’re at it, have an HVAC professional check your furnace as well.
Be Careful With Barbecue Grills and Fire Pits
If you use a backyard barbecue grill or fire pit, never leave fires unattended. Use lids or screens to ensure embers don’t spread and cause a fire. Keep a bucket of sand or a fire extinguisher near your fire source for emergencies. Make sure all fires are out,or douse them before retiring for the evening.
Don’t Smoke in Bed
If you’re a smoker, resist the temptation to smoke in bed or on a sofa where you may fall asleep with a lit cigarette. Smoking outside is better in general, and make sure cigarette and cigar butts are out cold before disposing of them.
Landscape for a High-Risk Geography
If you live in an area that’s at high risk for wildfires, landscape accordingly. Keep trees and brush away from your home, and use fire-resistant plantings like succulents near structures. Consider adding a water source, like a pool or a pond, and a home pump system for fire emergencies
Have a Fire Safety Plan
People who reside in high-risk fire areas typically have a fire safety plan, but every home should. Instruct kids on how to exit safely and dial 911, practice using smoke alarms, and know how you will get pets out of the house.
Your homeowner insurance is there for you in case of fire, but you’re even better off if you never have to file a fire claim!