As a homeowner, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your loved ones and your property from the risk of a fire in the home. In Edmonton, part of this process would be to obtain homeowner’s insurance, condo insurance or tenants insurance. These types of insurance will cover damage to your home or personal property should a fire break out. You may believe that you are cautious enough never to let a fire start in your home, but it’s important to remember that not all fires can be anticipated or prevented. Quick responses from watchful neighbours and firefighters can help to reduce damage, but a string of fires can easily affect several properties at once.
How to Reduce the Risk of Fire
In any type of home, your first line of defence against a fire is your smoke alarms, which are mandatory in Alberta. You must ensure that you have a smoke detector on each floor, especially near sleeping areas. Test the fire alarms on a regular basis to ensure that they are in working order. If the smoke detectors are battery-operated, replace the batteries in spring and fall. The smoke detectors themselves should be replaced every 10 years.
Purchase a fire extinguisher or two to keep at your most frequently used exit and in the kitchen. The idea is to have one extinguisher located in an area of safety before deciding whether the fire is one you can put out yourself with an extinguisher.
Be aware that some of the most common types of home fires involve accidents in the kitchen or problems with the heating or electrical system. Kitchen fires are often caused by leaving food unattended in the oven or on the stove. You should make it a habit to turn off the stove if you leave the room, especially when cooking at high temperatures. When cooking with oil, use an appliance with a thermostat. You should also keep children and any flammable items such as dishcloths, paper towels or potholders away from the stove.
Never barbeque indoors, leave candles unattended, or smoke in bed. Surprisingly, every year, smokers cause numerous fires from falling asleep with a lit cigarette.
During cold Edmonton winters, many homeowners like to raise the heat or use the fireplace to stay warm. It is important to stay safe, so make sure children and any flammable objects are at least three feet away from any heating equipment. Keep the heating system properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis by a qualified professional. Always use the right kind of fuel for the heating device as recommended by the manufacturer. If you are using a wood fireplace, ensure that there is a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room and have the chimney swept annually by an experienced professional.
All electrical work in your home should be completed by a qualified electrician. If you are buying or remodelling a house or condo, have it inspected. On average, your electrical panel should be checked every 20 years.
To limit the risk of electrical fires, always use light bulbs that are consistent with the recommended wattage for the light fixture. All major appliances (including refrigerators, air conditioners, stoves, etc.) should be plugged directly into the wall outlet and not used with extension cords. Three prong plugs should never be used with two prong extension cords even if you can make them fit. Cords that are worn or frayed should be replaced.
Have a Safety Plan
Awareness and careful planning to reduce the risk of fire does not eliminate it completely. That is why you also need a family or household fire escape plan. If you live in a condominium building you may want to consult with the building management.
First, make sure everyone in your household knows how to use the fire extinguisher. The PASS steps recommended stand for:
- Pull the pin
- Aim downward
- Squeeze the lever
- Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, aiming at the base of the fire.
Because a fire could persist, you will want to have an escape plan in place. Start by drawing a floor plan of your home on grid paper, including every floor and all possible emergency exits (including windows, doors and stairs). Include features like the garage and porch roofs, trees and television antennae that can help in an emergency escape. For each room you will ideally have two marked escape routes (usually a window and a door). Mark these exists on the floor plan and make sure they are accessible, meaning that all windows will open and no heavy furniture is blocking the way for all members of the household who may use them. If there are any children, elderly or disabled residents in your home, decide in advance who will assist them.
It is important that once everyone exits the property there is a pre-arranged meeting place a safe distance away that everyone knows to go directly to in order to ensure that no one is missing. There should also be a neighbour’s property and an alternate place designated as the place to go to call for the fire department in the event that no one who was home has a phone with them after leaving.
Communicate and Rehearse the Safety Plan
You must make sure you discuss the plan as a household and that everyone knows what to do. It is crucial never re-enter a home where there is a fire. Your local fire department will be properly trained to rescue any remaining individuals and pets. Practicing your escape plan periodically (at least every six months) will ensure everyone is familiar with it and stays safe in the event of an emergency.
Insure Your Property
A fire emergency can be devastating for you and your family. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a growing family in two-storey home, or a retired couple in a bungalow, the destruction of your home and most prized possessions is a horrible experience. If you have a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance in Edmonton, however, your loved ones will be looked after and your personal possessions will be replaced.
Contact MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Edmonton
It is critical that you have sufficient insurance to cover any damage to your home or personal property. If your property is currently uninsured, consider speaking with an independent insurance broker regarding the best plans for house insurance in Edmonton.
At MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd., we understand the importance of insuring your home in case of emergency and will work to find the best option available for your family. Contact us today to inquire about homeowners insurance or condo insurance in Edmonton at 780-436-7880. You can also request a free quote on our website.