No one anticipates having to use their home insurance policy for a partial or total fire loss, but it happens every day across Ohio. According to the Red Cross, you may have as little as two minutes to escape a fire that starts in your home. A working smoke alarm that provides an early warning and a well-practiced fire escape plan can help save lives. So what things should you be doing to make sure you are prepared?
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Talk to your children about how smoke alarms sound and what they should do when they hear them.
- Test smoke alarms every month. If they're not working, change the batteries.
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan at least twice a year. It's good to make sure all household members know at least two ways to escape from every room in your home. Make sure there is a family meeting spot outside of your home as part of your plan.
- If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
- Make sure all family members know 911, emergency contacts and who to contact if they cannot find one another.
- Teach stop, drop and roll in case a family member's clothes catch fire.
While these are all good tips for if a fire takes place - are their things you can do to prevent a fire? Yes, there is. At Hummel Group, we not only sell home insurance in Ohio, but we are also risk advisors. We are always looking for ways to help you reduce your risk and that includes reducing fire risk. We recommend following these tips that the Red Cross provides to help reduce your fire risk:
Most home fires start in the kitchen during cooking - usually on stovetops - not in the oven. Be sure to stay in the kitchen when cooking, frying, or grilling on your stove top.
- Check for curtains, towel racks or even paper towel dispensers sitting too close to the burners.
- If your microwave isn't built in, make sure it's clear of surrounding clutter and its vents aren't obstructed.
- If you don't already have one, buy a fire extinguisher to keep within easy reach should something ignite while you're cooking.
- Remember, don't toss water on a grease fire if you're caught without an extinguisher. If a fire starts in a pan - and many do - put a lid on it to suffocate the flames.
Heating equipment, like space heaters, are involved in 1 of every 6 home fires. Furthermore, 1 in every 5 home fire deaths and half of all fires caused by home heating occur between December and February.
- Make sure to always keep anything that gives off heat at least 3 feet away from flammable materials or items.
- Never plug more than one heating appliance into an outlet.
- Keep portable gas generators outside and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is checked and cleaned by a professional once a year. Use a metal or galss screen that is large enough to prevent escaping embers.
- Never leave fires (or candles) burning, or heating appliances plugged in, while asleep, in another room, or when you leave your home.
Dryers are responsible for about 9 out of 10 appliance fires.
- Check yours - in fact, check all your appliances - for testing labels that indicate you purchased them in safe working order. You may not find them on some older appliances, so consider whether it's time to replace them or have them checked by a professional.
- Make it a habit to clean out the lint screen every time you use your dryer. It may be an annoyance, but this simple action can save you a lot more pain and aggravation later.
Electronics and Outlets
All those appliance and electronic cords have to plug in somewhere, so your electrical outlets should be next on your home inspection list.
- Are any overloaded or showing signs of wear?
- Rearrange things so as many appliances as possible have their own outlets, and use extension cords to reach more distant outlets.
- This option may be a bit unsightly, but avoid running extension cords under rugs.
- Make sure your lamps are all using bulbs with wattage equal to or less than what the manufacturer recommends as well.
- When it comes to electronics, unplug them when they're not in use whenever possible.
- Lastly, keep in mind that items like televisions and computers need space from anything flammable because they can overheat!
your garage, basement and yard can present hazards as well - in fact, they have the potential to be even more dangerous.
- Avoid cluttering debris or junk near your furnace or heater.
- Old newspapers piled in damp, warm places can actually self-combust - they don't even have to be close to a heat source.
- If you have gasoline or other flammable liquids at home, keep them tightly sealed in metal containers and make sure they're far away from heat sources, including the gas or charcoal grill you love to use in the summer.
- The grill itself should be at least 10 feet from your home and placed away from any overhead brances or structures.
Keep these safety tips and tricks and mind and you will minimize your risk of fire. Call Hummel Group at 800-860-1060 for quotes or check your home coverage and make sure it is up to date.