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Category: Preparing for Emergencies

Tips for Homeowners

 Simple Measures You Can Take to Save Your Home from Fire

By Sarah Simmons

You may have homeowners insurance that provides coverage for damage to your home resulting from fire, but this coverage cannot protect your loved ones or memories in the case of fire, it only covers material objects. Every year, 4,000 Americans die in fires, and the vast majority of those deaths occur at home. Each year, 100,000 homes are destroyed, 40,000 family pets are killed and uncounted irreplaceable family treasures are lost forever to fire. Tragically, most fires are preventable. Don't depend on your homeowners insurance, taking just a few simple measures around your home can help prevent a possibly fatal fire.

Home Heating Systems

The leading cause of fires in the home is faulty heating equipment. Home heating systems can include furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves or space heaters. A few things that you can do to ensure that your home heating system is safe:

  • Change your air filter regularly to ensure that your furnace isn't overtaxed.

  • Don't leave piles of newspaper or other combustibles within two feet of your furnace.

  • Your furnace should be checked regularly by a professional. The flame should burn a bright, steady blue and should never come outside of the furnace.

  • If you hear or smell natural gas leaking from your furnace lines, evacuate the house immediately and use a phone outside the house to call 911.

  • Fireplace chimneys need to be cleaned out frequently and inspected for cracks and obstructions.

  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood in your fireplace.

  • Use a fireplace screen that is both big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks and heavy enough to stop rolling logs.

  • Inspect and clean your wood stovepipe and chimney on a regular basis and check monthly for damage or obstructions.

  • Keep combustible objects away from wood stoves.

  • Only use heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety listing.

  • Never put anything on top of your space heater.

  • Never leave the heater unattended or with unsupervised children.

  • Both electric heaters and kerosene heaters should be unplugged or turned off if you go to bed or leave the house.

  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in your kerosene heater - never gasoline or camp stove fuel.

  • Never use an oven or stove to help heat your home.

  • Smoking in the Home

    While home heating systems are the number one cause of fires in the home, cigarettes are the number one factor in home fire fatalities. Follow these safety tips for smoking in the home:

  • If you do smoke, be sensible.

  • Do not leave cigarettes, cigars, or pipes unattended.

  • Don't smoke in bed.

  • If you begin to feel drowsy while watching television or reading, extinguish your smoking materials in a safe container.

  • Use a large, deep, metal or glass ashtray with wide lips.

  • Never put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs.

  • Water down cigarette butts and ashes before dumping them.

  • Store matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

  • Do not put ashtrays in a location where children or pets could knock them over.

  • Arson

    The number two cause of fire-related deaths is arson. Intentionally set fires claim the lives of more people each year than all natural disasters—including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes—combined. A little diligence around the house, along with a watchful eye for strangers, can make a world of difference:

  • Most arson fires are fueled with combustible material found nearby. Keep properties clean, and keep flammable liquids safely out of sight, locked in a shed or garage.

  • Learn about arson trends in your area.

  • Start a neighborhood watch program to prevent arson and other crime.

  • How to Handle a Kitchen Fire

    Many household fires start in the kitchen. Untended cooking and human error account for most of these fires - not mechanical failure of stoves or ovens. Here's how to handle a kitchen fire:

  • Call 911 immediately. Prepare for the worst and don't hesitate to call.

  • Smother frying-pan fires by covering with a lid, then turn off the heat with the lid in place until the pan cools. Do not try to carry the pan outside because this could seriously burn you if the contents spill out.

  • Other food fires may be extinguished with baking soda, so try to keep an extra box stored in an upper cabinet location. Never use water or flour on cooking fires.

  • Turn off the heat to smother oven or broiler fires and keep the door shut.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.

  • General Fire Safety Tips

  • Keep children away from open flames and electrical receptacles.

  • Make sure your smoke alarm is maintained and working properly. Check batteries twice a year (a good way to remember to do this is to check smoke alarms when you change the clocks at the beginning and end of daylight savings time).

  • Have a smoke alarm in every level of your house.

  • Keep your emergency numbers near the telephone.

  • Always call the fire department for any fire, even if the fire has been completely extinguished.

  • Have a fire evacuation plan and practice it with your family.

  • Insure your Home

    Last but not least, although homeowners insurance can not save your life or priceless memories, it is an absolute necessity to protect yourself against damage to or the loss of your home and its contents. Most mortgage lenders require some level of hazard insurance for your home, but you should always get additional homeowners insurance to make sure you are fully protected. When shopping for a homeowners insurance quote, it's important to research the insurer, understand the policy, and choose the right amount of coverage. Policies vary from one company to another, so you should get a homeowners insurance quote from several different companies before deciding on one.

    At a non-biased, third party insurance quotes site consumers can choose the type of insurance they are interested in receiving a quote for, fill out a form online, and within minutes a request is submitted. At that time, local insurance agents contact the consumer to discuss their insurance needs and compete for their business. Consumers can then choose from the best offer they receive.

    About The Author:

    Article written by: Sarah Simmons. For nearly 2 years, has been a major resource for consumers interested in lowering their insurance costs. Helping thousands of people save money nationwide, stands firmly behind the belief that everyone deserves affordable insurance. Read more articles written by: Sarah Simmons


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    Category: Preparing for Emergencies

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