Monday, November 22, 2010

Home Fire Safety for the Holidays

As the holidays approach, homeowners should take time to think about home fire safety. By taking simple measures, home fire safety precautions can prevent the devastation of a house fire. According to claims data from a major auto and home insurance company, reports of fire loss jump during the winter months. January alone accounted for 15 per cent of all fire losses reported in 2009. So make home fire safety a top priority.

Properly planned home fire safety can help prevent the majority of fire losses. This autumn, consider these home fire safety tips:

Home Fire Safety Step #1: Prepare

The first step in home fire safety is to be prepared! The best thing you can do to ensure safer winter months at home is to be proactive about your home's upcoming seasonal needs. A little time spent on home fire safety preparation will ensure that your family stays safe and comfortable this winter.

1. Inspect heaters every autumn to ensure they are in good working condition. If you have a gas heater, inspect the exhaust for carbon build up.

2. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year if you have a woodstove or use your fireplace. This is an essential part of home fire safety, because creosote buildup can cause a chimney fire.

3. Install smoke detectors on all floors of your home. Take the time to sit down with your family and prepare a fire plan. It should detail escape routes and include a designated meeting place. This is an indispensable part of home fire safety preparedness.  If you already have smoke detectors, then make sure that you change the batteries every six months.

Home Fire Safety Step #2: Prevent

An essential part of home fire protection is prevention! As you prepare for cooler weather and holiday festivities, make home fire safety part of your yearly routine.

1. Avoid overloading your outlets by using power bars for several small appliances. If you have a gas stove in your kitchen, keep rags, paper or anything that can catch on fire, away from open flames. This is an essential part of home fire safety, because many house fires are due to electrical fires and cooking accidents.

2. Inspect your home for frayed or damaged electrical cords and plugs, as well as fuses that regularly blow. Consider hiring a licensed electrician to inspect your home's electrical system to make sure everything is working properly.

3. Home fire safety is especially vital during the holidays. Christmas tree lights and electrical ornaments should be in working order with no wires showing or fraying. A pine tree that catches on fire can set an entire room ablaze in less than a minute.

4. Careless disposal of fireplace ashes can be a serious threat to any home. Ashes need four days to completely cool. Keep them in a can away from combustible materials until completely cool and then discard them.

Home Fire Safety Step #3: Insure

In addition to taking home fire safety precautions, another way to keep your family safe during the winter season is with high quality home insurance.

Make sure that you know who is insuring your home, and if you have any gaps in coverage.  I am working with a client who recently had a fire, and they are delighted to know that they have the right coverage when the need it.  You want to make sure that you are with a company who will work with you through the claims process, not against you.  You also need a trusted licensed insurance professional to make sure that you have the right level of protection in case you need it. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's time to "Fall Back"

You’ve likely heard the saying, “spring forward, fall behind,” as an easy way to remember how to set your clocks when daylight saving time begins and ends. In the spring, we move our clocks ahead one hour and “lose” an hour during the night. In the fall, we move our clocks back one hour to “gain” more time.

On Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 at 2 a.m. local time, daylight saving time ends in the U.S. Remember to set your clock one hour earlier, and enjoy the extra hour in your day.

The change to daylight saving time allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes and businesses by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours. It began in the U.S. during World War I as a way to save energy for war production. During World War II, the government again required states to use daylight saving time. After the war, it was up to each individual community to choose whether or not it would observe daylight saving time until 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of daylight saving time.

In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which extended daylight saving time by four weeks, with the hope of saving 10,000 barrels of oil per day by reducing the use of power during daylight hours.

It is also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detector.  This should be done every six months, so the change in time is a good time to change your batteries.  Have a safe and happy fall.