Home Safety Tips & Advice

Fireplace and Home Fire Safety

According to FEMA, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their home. Unfortunately, heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. These fires can easily be avoided if the correct steps are taken. Please take a minute to look at the suggestions the U.S. Fire Administration has compiled regarding Fireplace and Home Fire Safety at this link.

Disaster Safety

Insurance is purchased to help people protect themselves against losses arising from disasters, but purchasing coverage is not the only way to feel secure. DisasterSafety.org is a website created by The Institute of Business & Home Safety that provides preparation plans for earthquakes, floods, tornadoes,  & severe winter weather. If you have any concerns, take a look at the website which can be found at http://www.disastersafety.org and see how to best prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Spring Rainy Season Ahead - Prepare Now!!

Recent storms and flooding in Indiana are a huge reminder that the spring rainy season is fast approaching. To learn more about flood safety and preparedness go to www.fema.gov. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the financial impact of a flood. Coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can be purchased through Independent Insurance agencies.

March - Tornado Awareness Month

Annually, the United States averages 800 reported tornadoes and unfortunately experiences tragic losses as the storms cross the country. The following tips can help protect your home and more importantly your family in a tornadic event.

Roof Maintenance

Fix any areas that might be in need of repair. If the entire roof needs to be replaced, choose materials that are designed to withstand high wind.

Windows

When replacing windows, ask about impact resistant windows. These windows are constructed to have a higher tolerance of debris and better chance of surviving a major windstorm.

Secure Your Doors

Like in the case of burglars, safety in a tornado increases when your doors are properly secured. Make sure door frames are anchored well to the wall framing with at least three hinges. A dead bolt security lock with a one inch bolt will also add protection.

Designate A Safe Zone

Whether at your home or work, find a spot that will provide ample cover should an emergency arise. If possible move to a basement. If the structure does not have a basement, find an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor away from windows and corners.

A Fire Safety Dozen -- Home Fire Prevention Tips

Home fires result in tragic losses of life and property each year. And most of those fires are preventable. By making basic safety a priority in your home, you can prevent devastating loss of property and tragic injuries and deaths. In addition to inspecting your home on a regular basis to detect potential problems, consider these safety precautions.

Be a safe cook.

Never leave cooking unattended. Many home fires start with cooking oil that gets too hot or a pan that cooks dry and burns. Also, keep cooking areas free of clutter, curtains, towels, or other items that might burn. Be sure that a responsible adult always supervises children in the kitchen.

Observe safe smoking practices.

Family members and friends who smoke should do so in a safe place and use ashtrays large enough to hold smoking materials. Be sure to extinguish smoking materials completely. And absolutely never smoke in bed. Most home fires related to smoking are started in a mattress, bedding, or upholstered furniture.

Keep appropriate fire extinguishers on hand & know how to use them.

Not every fire extinguisher is effective on every type of fire, and in fact, using the wrong fire extinguisher may even cause the fire to spread! Three types of fire extinguishers are appropriate for home use:

  • Class A for fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper
  • Class B for fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, etc.
  • Class C for use on electrical fires

Combination fire extinguishers useful against more than one type of fire are also available and may be a good choice for home use.

Plan to have an appropriate working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, in the garage, and at least one on each floor of your home. Fast action before a fire spreads can prevent more extensive fire losses and injuries.

Keep home electrical wiring and equipment in good condition.

Faulty electrical wiring and equipment are leading causes of home fires. Be sure your home wiring is up to code and adequate for modern appliances and equipment. An electrical contractor can inspect your home’s wiring and advise of any problems or necessary upgrades. Avoid overloading circuits or using extension cords as these are common causes of electrical fires. Plan to dispose of or repair any lamps or appliances that are damaged or not working correctly.

Don’t leave candles burning unattended.

Candles add a festive glow to our celebrations and add romantic and aromatic ambiance. But left unattended, that glow can easily become a dangerous blaze. When lighting candles, make sure they are in safe, fireproof holders or containers located on a stable surface and away from the reach of children in your home. Don’t allow candles to burn unattended when everyone has left the room.

Don’t allow clutter or trash to pile up around your home.

Clutter in garages, kitchen, workroom, and storage areas can lead to fires. Rags and containers used for flammable materials such as oils, cleaning solutions, and flammable petroleum products are especially dangerous. Thorough clean-up after home projects and proper disposal of dangerous materials will help ensure the safety of your home and avoid major clean-up projects later.

Have smoke alarms strategically located and check them regularly.

A working smoke alarm can prevent major fire damage and even save your family’s lives! Many fires that result in loss of life occur in homes without smoke alarms or where smoke alarms are not functioning. Locate smoke alarms throughout your home as recommended and test your smoke alarms regularly. Your local fire department can advise you about smoke alarm placement, and many recommend changing batteries twice a year – for example, when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.

Clean fireplace chimneys.

Creosote, a highly flammable residue, builds up over time in chimneys for fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. When your home heating fire burns too hot it can easily ignite this creosote residue resulting in a potentially devastating chimney fire. Schedule regular chimney inspection and cleaning service with a professional chimney-cleaning firm to ensure that a warming glow in your fireplace or wood-burner doesn’t become a blazing chimney fire.

Keep your home heating system in good condition.

Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually for most fuel-efficient operation and to avoid fires due to faulty equipment. Change furnace filters as needed, and keep flammable materials away from the furnace.

Use space heaters cautiously.

January and February, the coldest months of the year in our northern climates, also have the highest incidence of home fires. Although they help keep us cozy in the coldest weather, it’s important to never leave space heaters unattended. Also set up space heaters a safe distance from any combustible materials and do not use them in spaces accessible to children.

Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

A child’s curiosity is unbounded, and the fascination of fire has resulted in countless fire-related tragedies. Be sure to store all matches and lighters in fire-safe containers out of the reach of children. If there is a smoker in your household, this precaution is even more important as lighters are more likely to be carelessly left in convenient locations.

Have a family fire safety plan & practice it.

Most people don’t realize how quickly a fire can spread through their home. When the smoke alarm sounds, you may have only seconds to safely exit your home. Having a home fire safety plan, including at least two safe exits from each room and alternate exits from upstairs areas if stairs are blocked, can mean literally the difference between life and death for members of your family. Practicing your fire safety strategies regularly can ensure that all family members will react calmly in the event of an actual emergency. Your local fire department can provide tips for preparing your home fire safety plan.