A house fire can be one of the scariest perils a Florida homeowner can face. House fires are a major cause of injury and death at home, and young children and the elderly are most at risk. It only takes a few minutes for a small flame to become a major fire. Let these fire prevention tips help keep your family safe.
How common are house fires? In 2021, according to U.S. Fire Administration estimates, there were 353,500 residential fires, 2,840 deaths, 11,400 injuries, and nearly 9 billion dollars in fire losses.
The most common causes of accidental house fires include cooking mishaps; electrical fires (due to faulty wiring or appliances, overloaded circuits, and so on); fires started by heat sources such as space heaters or fireplaces; and careless smoking (the leading cause of fire deaths). Here are some simple tips to help you prevent a deadly house fire.
Simple fire prevention basics
Cooking fires: Never leave food cooking on the stovetop unattended. Keep stove free of grease buildup, and make sure flammable items like paper towels or oven mitts are kept well away from heat sources.
Electrical fires: Inspect electrical cords and replace any frayed ones. Don’t cover electrical cords with rugs or pinch them between other objects. Don’t use too many extension cords or multiple multi-outlet power strips because this can cause an electrical overload.
Heating fires: Keep objects at least three feet away from space heaters. Space heaters shouldn’t be used while you sleep, and should be equipped with safety features including an automatic shut off if they’re knocked over. Space heaters shouldn’t be the main source of heat in a home.
Maintain your fireplace and chimney properly—have chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep and keep fireplace clear of excess ash. Don’t burn trash, wrapping paper, or cardboard in your fireplace.
Smoking fires: Do not smoke in bed, or leave burning smoking materials unattended. Make sure all ashes are cool before disposing of them.
Safety and preparation
The most crucial safety precaution you can take is to equip your home with working smoke alarms on every level and in every bedroom. Smoke and poisonous gases are more deadly than the fire itself and can harm you before you even know there is a fire. Smoke alarms more than double your chance of surviving. Change batteries regularly, and replace the detectors themselves every 10 years.
You should also have at least one multi-purpose fire extinguisher which is capable of putting out several types of fires. Keep one in the kitchen, and additional ones in your home’s main gathering areas and garage.
(Click here to see more ways you can protect your home from fire and other disasters!)
In addition to these methods of preventing fires, you should also prepare your family in the event a fire does break out. Create an escape plan and practice it. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear that sound. If they’re unfamiliar with the sound, a wailing smoke alarm could frighten them and cause them to hide rather than try to escape.
Keep bedroom doors closed when sleeping. Each bedroom should have two exits—a window and a door. Remind all family members to stay low—crawl on the floor to a safe exit—and to use the back of a hand to test if their exit door is hot.
Agree on a place to meet after getting out of the house. If necessary, draw a simple map easy for all to understand.
Be sure children know their last names and street address, and how to call 911 for help. If you don’t already know your neighbors, introduce yourself and your children, so your family will have someplace to go in case of emergency. Stress that no one must go back into the house to get toys, clothes, or pets. If pets are inside, let firefighters know immediately.
Homeowners insurance is there to help
If your home is damaged or destroyed by a fire, your homeowners insurance should help you repair or rebuild your home’s structure, as well as your garage, fence, or shed if it was damaged in the fire. Homeowners insurance also covers your personal property—clothing, furniture, and other personal belongings. And if you have to move out of your home while it’s being repaired, your homeowners insurance usually covers loss of use, also known as additional living expenses.
We know that getting the right homeowners insurance at an affordable price can be difficult in Florida’s volatile homeowners insurance market. Your home is your most valuable asset, so you want to be sure you’re properly insured. That’s why choosing an independent agency with many homeowners insurance markets, like L & M Insurance Group, can be a great way to compare policies to find the one that is just right for your situation. Give one of our agents a call today 813-672-4100 for a homeowners insurance quote. If you prefer, you may contact us online by clicking here.