Home Fire Safety & Insurance Protection Tips
In the US, there is a house fire every 87 seconds, which equates to a half million people in the US per year. Chances are rare that it will happen to you, but it is something every household should be prepared for. You need to protect not only your property, but also your life and the lives of those around you. The results of a house fire are devastating due to the loss of assets, personal memories, and people.
Most of us know we need smoke detectors, but how often should we replace the batteries? What do we need to know about our homeowners insurance coverage? Here are some Home Fire Safety & Insurance Protection Tips:
1. Smoke Detectors & Alarms
- Smoke detectors are useless if they don’t work. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), says 46% of people who lived through a house fire thought that their smoke detectors were working at the time of the fire. Check your detector monthly to ensure that you can depend on it.
- Dead batteries are a common cause of smoke detector failure. Keep batteries on hand, and make sure you change the smoke detector batteries every 6 months.
- Smoke detectors do not last forever. Ionization type smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years. Check with your manufacturer to find out what recommendations they have regarding replacement.
- Make sure you have detectors near the home entry as well as near bedrooms.
- Keep smoke detectors away from air vents to prevent dust buildup. Also, position detectors 6 inches from where the wall meets the ceiling.
2. Fire Extinguishers
- You should have one of these on every floor.
- Keep them close to where fires most commonly break out, such as the kitchen, laundry room, and garage.
3. Evacuation Plans
- Don’t just have one plan for exiting your home. Have multiple plans in case one of the evacuation routes are blocked by the fire or smoke.
- Fire deaths are higher among children and the elderly. If you have children or elderly people in your home, make sure you plan for their needs. Practice a fire drill so that you can have peace of mind knowing they will be prepared.
- If there is a fire in your home, do not attempt to get anything. However, if your keys, wallet, or cell phone are somewhere along your exit route, grab them.
- Designate a meeting place for when you are able to get out of your home. The scene may be a little chaotic, and you will want to make sure your family members are safe.
- Know how much of your “main dwelling” (the physical structure of your home) your homeowners insurance covers in the event of a fire. This is known as Coverage A in the breakdown of your homeowners insurance. It does not include the contents of your home or the land, but only the structure.
- Make sure that you have proper coverage over your personal property (Coverage C). If your house were to catch on fire, would you have significant coverage for your “stuff”? It is also worth investing in umbrella insurance for added protection of your personal property.
- Take pictures and a video of everything in your home and on your property. Keep copies of the pictures and video at a friend or family member’s home. This will ensure that it would not be destroyed in a disaster. Also, email yourself a copy of the documents or use online storage. This will help you provide the necessary evidence to prove what you lost in the fire.
- Have a fire-proof safe to store all your important documents. Also, keep a copy of these documents with someone you can trust.
- After a house fire, call your insurance agent immediately so that you can file your claim.
Hopefully you will never have to deal with a house fire, but be prepared for one anyway. In the rare event that you do have a house fire, you wont regret the time and energy you spent preparing for it.