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Protecting Yourself Against Fire


If you are like most homeowners, you will probably never need to submit an insurance claim, but no one is immune from the risk of fire. Within limits, home insurance can help reimburse you for financial loss arising from mishaps that are generally “sudden and accidental” and hard to predict and prevent.

Take the following steps to protect your family and your home.

Check your smoke detectors

  • Install smoke detectors outside bedrooms and on each floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Make sure dust does not collect on smoke detectors and never paint over them.
  • Do not use rechargeable batteries; they can fail without warning.
  • Check smoke detectors at least once a month.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year or, better yet, when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
  • Replace smoke detectors every 10 years.

Establish a fire evacuation plan

  • Draw a diagram of your home, indicating two exits from each room.
  • Hold fire drills with all members of your family.
  • Decide on a place where you can meet outside and call for help.
  • Practice crawling to avoid the heat and smoke.
  • Remind all family members that they must go out and stay out.

Use your kitchen safely

  • Don’t leave anything cooking unattended. Turn off the stove even if you leave the room only for a few seconds.
  • Use a CSA-approved fryer.
  • Wear close-fitting clothing that won’t catch on pot handles.
  • Turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk of accidentally overturning the pot and to prevent children from grabbing it.
  • Do not let children get closer than one meter (three feet) when you are cooking.

Hide matches or lighters

  • Ask children to tell you when they find matches or lighters.
  • Remind them each time that such items are for adults only.

Be careful if you smoke

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use only wide, stable ashtrays.
  • Wet cigarette butts before disposing of them.
  • After extinguishing a cigarette, make sure there are no ashes or butts on or around the furniture.

Be careful with electricity

  • With a little attention, you can spot devices that are dangerous or in poor condition: Flickering lamps, bare wires, burning odours, open circuit breakers.
  • Never run electrical cords under furniture or rugs when they may be crushed or even cut.
  • Do not use extension cords on a permanent basis.
  • Do not plug too many appliances into a single outlet.

Give space heaters space

  • Leave at least one meter (three feet) between combustible materials and space heaters.
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving a room.

Get rid of combustible waste

  • Regularly dispose of anything that could cause a fire including paints or solvents you no longer need, stacks of papers, etc.
  • Do not leave any combustible in the furnace room.

Fireplace safety

  • Guard open fires carefully – fire screens are advisable.
  • Frequently clean chimneys that use oil, solid fuels, or wood.

Article reproduced courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.  www.ibc.ca