Insurance policies are critical to help recover after a fire but are only part of the protection.
"The best insurance is to practice fire safety and take every possible measure to prevent fire and to be safe," said Torres. Fire prevention tips include:
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors. Make sure the alarm/detector is approved by an independent testing laboratory such as
Underwriters Laboratories(UL). The choice of alarms, detectors, and combination smoke alarm/CO2 detectors can be overwhelming. Ask an expert for information about choosing the best equipment, or hire an expert to do the job.
- Test the alarms/detectors according to manufacturer's recommendations.
- Have one or more fire extinguishers handy, know how to operate them and make sure others in the household know how to operate them. The number of fire extinguishers you need depend on the size of the home or business. They should be placed in strategic positions where they can be easily accessed. Test the fire extinguisher according to the instructions or contact with a fire extinguisher service company to keep them in good operating order.
- Consider a home fire sprinkler system. Businesses are almost always required to have a sprinkler system.
- Inspect home or business for potential fire hazards, including the building exterior and surrounding property. Weed abatement is critical. Inspect electrical cords for fraying, cracks or other damage and replace them. Don't over use extension cords. Replace buzzing or sparking electrical switches and outlets and have an electrician inspect your wiring.
- Clean lint out of the dryer traps on a regular basis. An annual dryer inspection goes a long way towards making sure all lint and other fire hazards are removed.
- Remove flammable clutter such as stack of papers and keep a generally tidy premises. Clutter creates fire hazards, especially in hoarding situations. Hoarding is considered a higher risk by most insurance companies and homeowner's insurance may be hard to get said the
- Store batteries according to the package instructions and recycle old batteries as soon as possible.
- Be sure to operate electric blankets and other electrical appliances according to the instructions.
- Create a fire escape plan and make sure everyone knows the plan by practicing it on a regular basis. The
National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) provides fire escape and fire safety plans free of charge on the website.
- Don't leave food cooking unattended in the kitchen and keep the stove and ovens clean to prevent grease and oil fires.
There are a number of community resources to help families and businesses prevent fires and create a fire escape plan. Local fire departments are an excellent resource and fire marshals generally inspect property for weed abatement and other fire hazards. When all the personal planning and prevention measures are finished a professional inspection or review of the plan can be very helpful for identifying any important factors that may have been missed.
The agency provides a wide range of insurance including homeowner/renter insurance for