According to federal statistics, 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes; in 2009 alone, 2,500 died and another 13,000 were injured in home fires. Most of these deaths were from inhaling smoke and other toxic gases. While your Homeowners Insurance can protect you against many losses caused by fire, fire prevention is always a necessity.
Here are some well-known yet effective prevention tips that can help any home:
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and replace the batteries once a year. If possible, consider hard-wiring your detectors, so you aren't as dependent on fresh batteries.
- Check electrical cords and replace any that are worn, frayed or have exposed wire.
- Avoid overloading extension cords and outlets.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen where most fires originate.
- Make sure your fireplace works correctly and is adequately vented.
- Never leave candles burning unattended or near curtains.
- Place space heaters away from walls, drapes or anything that could catch fire. Be sure to turn off heaters when you go to bed or leave for the day.
Avoid scams and con artists
Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Grifters and con artists are more sophisticated in their scams in this digital era and your extra vigilance will pay off. For example, be sure to steer clear of:
- "Get rich quick" and other schemes that ask you for good faith money up-front.
- Unexplained bargains or deals for normally expensive repairs and home improvement jobs.
- Investments that promise unusually large returns.
- Trips and other prizes you "won", but require you to pay some up-front money or disclose important information like your bank account number.
Always be careful to not give out personal information like your birth date, social security number or driver's license number. Such information is used for identity theft and fraud. Protect yourself with Identity Theft Protection for peace of mind. Some Homeowners policies include limited Identity Theft Protection which may sometimes be upgraded for a nominal extra premium.
Prepare for severe weather
One of the most important home protection measures you can take is to prepare for bad weather. Whether it's high wind, torrential rain or tornados in the summer, or harsh snowstorms in the winter, you can protect your home and your family with these simple precautions:
- Take a Home Inventory of the valuables and contents in your home, including, if possible, the value of each item and the purchase date. Take pictures or video and keep these records in a safe-deposit box or send copies to a family member outside your region for safekeeping.
- Make sure you store important documents, such as your insurance policy or mortgage papers, in a safe-deposit or fireproof box.
- Read and understand your homeowner and car insurance policies, especially their deductibles and disclosures. Make sure you have adequate coverage, including the correct replacement value for your home.
- If you live in a flood zone, you should carry adequate flood insurance. Our Agencycan help you determine if you are at risk and help you obtain coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Have an emergency kit handy. Include a generator, charged cell phone, battery-operated radio, food and water, first-aid kit, blanket and flashlights.
Other preventative measures
We've created additional resources that will help with your home protection efforts:
- Insure to value (See: Insure Your Home For Replacement Cost; 02/07/2016)
- Inventory valuables (See: Home Inventory Made Easy; 02/05/2016)
- Remodeling Insurance
- Maintain your roof
- Clean rain gutters (See: Winter Chores - Clean Gutters; 02/07/2016)