Your home is your castle, a haven where you and your family build your lives and create memories. The mere thought of a fire killing one or more of your family members or destroying your most valued possessions will send shivers down anyone’s spine.
Yet these things do happen. In what follows we will advise readers on how to prevent fires in the first place, how to be prepared in case a fire does break out, and what to do to minimize the risks in such a situation.
Preventing House Fires
Candles. Candles are probably one of the most common causes of house fires. Our first recommendation is to never use candles in the house. However if you do use them, be sure that they are placed in a safe area and are protected on a non-flammable surface should they accidentally get knocked over by a pet.
Heating Sources. Faulty heating sources are often responsible for house fires. Check them out regularly yourself and get a professional to check them out at least once a year. Air filters should always be clean, and in the case of a space heater, it should be positioned a safe distance from anything flammable.
Oven and Stove. Food particles on a stove burner can and often do catch fire. Keep both of these clean! Also, make sure there are no curtains that hang close enough to the stove so they can catch fire. Finally, don’t leave dish towels on a hot stove - they easily catch fire.
Do not leave cooking food unattended. It only takes a couple of seconds for a fire to start, so never leave the kitchen if you have food cooking on the stove. If you have no choice, get a family member to watch the kitchen.
Electrical Cords. Frayed or chewed cords are huge fire hazards and should be replaced as soon as possible. Cords should also not run between a wall and your furniture, or under a rug.
Electrical Dryers. You should have your dryer inspected at least once a year. Also clean out those innocent-looking pieces of lint before loading a fresh load of laundry, and check behind the dryer for any lint or small items of clothing such as socks that could form a fire hazard.
Flammable Products. Store cosmetic products such as shaving cream and hairspray as well as household cleaners in a cool place, away from appliances like e.g. space heaters.
Fireplaces. Make sure there’s a safety door between your fireplace and the floor, and never leave the room when there’s a fire burning in the fireplace. When disposing of the ashes, make sure there are no hot coals inside and do not dump them in a container that’s made of flammable material.
How to be Prepared when a Fire Breaks Out
Smoke Alarms. These should be tested regularly, let’s say once a month. A smoke alarm usually has a small button that must be pressed if you want to test it. Immediately replace the batteries if it only emits a weak beep, or if it doesn’t beep at all. Also, make sure you have enough smoke alarms to cover the whole property.
Fire Extinguishers. When a fire does break out, a fire extinguisher is your best weapon to prevent it from spreading. There should preferably be one in every room, and all family members should know how to use it.
Escape Routes. Make sure that all family members know how to escape from each room in the house if a fire breaks out, and decide on a meeting spot outside the house where you can check that everyone is accounted for. Practice this plan at least twice a year.
Clothes that catch fire. Once your clothes catch fire it could be minutes or even seconds before you are dead. Make sure every family member knows the SDR drill if this happens:
Drop to the ground
Roll until the flames are extinguished
The Benefits of Homeowners Insurance if a Fire Breaks Out
if the unthinkable happens and your home is damaged by a fire, your homeowners insurance policy will cover the structure of the property itself and also attached structures like a garage. Detached structures such as sheds and fences are often also covered.
Apart from that, your home insurance policy will typically also cover personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and appliances. If you have high value items such as art, collectables, or jewelry, you should talk with your agent about having them scheduled on your policy so that you can collect their full value if they get damaged.