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Home fire safety

No one wants to lose their home or possessions due to a house fire. It is a devastating event that can take months – or even years to recover from.  Fire awareness week is October 6 to 12, and is a good time to learn more about preventing and recovering from house fires. Most house fires seem to occur between November and March1, making October a great time to enhance your knowledge. Staying mindful and alert to any potential dangers in your home is the key to preventing a fire before it starts.

Smoke detectors and fire alarms are some of the most important items in your home when it comes to your family’s safety. All Ontario homes are to have a working smoke alarm on every level2. These devices can help alert you and your family members to fire and dangerous smoke, giving you time to evacuate. However, smoke detectors and fire alarms are not infallible and need to be periodically tested to help ensure they are functioning properly. How often should you test these devices? According to the Canada Safety Council, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced twice a year. 

Did you know that 48%3 of home fires are started by cooking equipment such as ovens or microwaves? Ensuring your cooking equipment and appliances are properly serviced and positioned safely can help reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring in your home. The next leading cause of house fires are space heaters; 15%3 of house fires have been caused by these amenities. If you do use a space heater, make sure it is always clean and free of obstruction to reduce the likelihood of a fire starting. It is also important to make sure that you are cleaning out your dryer lint regularly and ensuring that your dryer vent is vented outside and clear of debris. 

The outside of your home is just as important as the inside. Clearing excess shrubbery, cardboard, garbage and other debris will help stop a fire from spreading.

It is also important to make sure you know what to do in case of a fire, and the steps you can take to protect your home and family. Ensure that your home is equipped with a fire extinguisher. When looking for a fire extinguisher for your home, you want to ensure that it is labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. It is also important to service your fire extinguisher regularly, and if you need to use it, make sure you charge it properly afterwards. 

It is also important to have a fire escape route planned for you and your family. Take the time to create an evacuation plan and practice it with your family to avoid panic and confusion in the event of a fire. Make sure that you have a designated meeting point somewhere near your escape route for when everyone has exited the house so you can make sure no one is still inside. 

If you experience a house fire that causes damages, contact your insurance provider immediately to begin the claims process. It is important to take pictures and document all damages and losses for insurance purposes. Even after you have documented the losses, don’t throw the damaged items away until it’s been approved by the insurance adjuster. If you don’t have one already, consider creating a home inventory list and take pictures of your house before any fire or incident occurs. This will make filing a claim much easier in the future.

If you experience a house fire and your home is deemed unlivable, most insurance policies include “loss of use” coverage, which would cover the cost of food, clothing and living arrangements for you and your family for a specified period of time4. Always speak with your insurance broker to discuss the details of your policy ahead of time. 

 No matter how big or small the loss is, dealing with the aftermath of a house fire can be a stressful and overwhelming process. However, being prepared and armed with knowledge ahead of time will help you to navigate the process and get your life back to normal. Call an OTIP insurance broker today at 1-800-267-6847 to ensure you have the appropriate coverage to protect you, your home, and your family from fire damage. 

1.    Electrical Safety Foundation International
2.    Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
3.    National Fire Protection Association

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