Jen Aultman, CPhT, Risk Management Consultant
Home fires can devastate your life. Even a small fire often requires residents to evacuate and reside elsewhere while clean up takes place. Smoke damage can cost thousands of dollars in damage to personal items, not to mention the time to clean what is salvageable. Fire can grow exponentially in just minutes, becoming a significant or total loss.
FEMA collects data from various sources to provide disaster data to the public. FEMA estimates home fires occur over 1.3 million times annually in the United States. Approximately 3,400 deaths are attributed to those fires, and over half of home fire deaths are people under age 14 or over age 65.
Home fires begin most often in the kitchen, bedroom, chimney, laundry area, or attic. Kitchen and bedroom fires are generally caused by careless behavior. Things such as a pan left cooking on the stove, a lit and unattended candle, or portable space heater are a few causes of home fires. Electrical fires originating in the attic or laundry area are common.
The best way to protect your family and dramatically increase the odds that everyone gets out safely is to have a fire escape plan for each person in the household. To keep your home and family as prepared as possible:
- Have a smoke detector on every level of your home
- Have a smoke detector both inside and outside of sleeping areas
- Check detector batteries monthly
- Replace batteries in detectors annually
- Replace the entire detecting unit every 8-10 years or more often as recommended by the manufacturer
- Practice the plan at least twice per year
- Teach your children NOT to be afraid of firefighters
A home inventory is a great idea if you have a total home loss due to a devastating fire. Photos of the rooms/closets/cupboards will help you get valuables replaced if they are destroyed. Discuss your home’s contents with your representative to be sure you have the coverage needed. Keep electronic copies of important documents to assist in gaining control of your life faster should a disaster strike. For information on disaster preparedness please visit: https://www.ready.gov/
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