Set aside some time and effort to protect your home from a devastating blaze with some safety tips
Fires cause an estimated 3,500 deaths and nearly $4 billion in property damage in the United States annually — much more than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Yet many people ignore common fire hazards in the home and don’t prepare themselves or family members for this more common catastrophe.
- Most home fires are started by home heating equipment. Use caution and common sense when using propane, electric or other home heating equipment.
- Keep flammables, such as drapes and furniture, away from space and portable heaters.
- Hire a certified chimney sweep to regularly clean and inspect the chimney.
- Inspect heating equipment regularly for proper design, installation and operation.
- Follow manufacturer instructions when installing and filling liquid- and gas-fueled heaters.
- Never leave auxiliary heating equipment unattended.
Household Appliances- Household appliances are another common cause of fires. Many people feel invulnerable from electrical fire hazards, thinking the rules don’t apply to them. Don’t make the same mistake and instead connect with these warnings:
- Don’t overload wall outlets.
- Don’t use fuses rated too high for your home’s circuits.
- Don’t use frayed electrical cords.
- Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furniture.
Cook Up a Safe Place- Most home fires start in the kitchen. To protect your home and family:
- Keep the stove clean and free of grease.
- Keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward.
- Keep all flammable material (including shirt sleeves) away from burners.
- Keep a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires nearby. • Never store flammable liquids in the kitchen.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- While prevention is the best protection against fires, precautions can be taken to protect possessions. A fire resistant safe or filing cabinet can help protect important documents like deeds, mortgages, titles for cars and birth certificates. Computer disks, home videos and family photographs can also be kept safe this way — if you’re using a safe specifically designed for such heat-sensitive items.
- For added protection, make duplicates and store the copies away from home in a secure location.
- And be sure to have Identity Theft protection to provide protection after a disaster when looting is a frequent problem.
A house fire is traumatic enough. Not having a good record of your belongings can only add to the misery. Keeping a home inventory of the items you have and their values will help you when the rebuilding starts. There are free downloads available from the Insurance Information Institute to serve as a guide to homeowners in order to have record after a loss.
A few simple steps can help when taking inventory: Don’t put it off. Start with new items and their value, and then try to remember older items. An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all. Use your camera. Take pictures or video of your home and write down descriptions to go with it. Keep it safe. Be sure to keep the inventory in a secure place, such as a fire box or safe deposit box.