Fire Safety! Prepare for the Worst.
Prepare for Trouble
It occurred to me while I was reading my Fire Restoration page that although the information I shared is all sound advice it might be better if I also shared some information on what you could do before hand to protect yourself and your belongings in the event of a fire or other catastrophic damage.
I have said it before and I will say it again “I am not an insurance agent and have nothing to do with any insurance company other than the one who insures my property.” I say this over and over because I do not want to mislead anyone. I am a trained Fire Restoration Tech. It has been several years since I worked in the industry but given the nature of the job there are just some things you never forget.
Minimize Potential Loss.
Most fires start either in the Kitchen, Attic or Basement. Do not store anything that you absolutely must have in these areas. Have your furnace, and hot water heater inspected annually. Do not overload electrical outlets. Make sure there are charged ready to use fire extinguishers in all of these areas as close to the entrances as possible. Teach everyone in your home to use the extinguishers, know where they are, and to know when and when not to try and use them. Install smoke detectors in every room, hallway and attached garage. If you live in a multiple story home make sure each bedroom has an emergency fire ladder. Plan an exit route and an alternative route for each room and practice using them. Set a meeting place somewhere outside of the home and teach everyone to report to that place as soon as they have left the building. This is so important for children, a lot of times parents might be prevented from reaching the children’s rooms because of the fire. If you have taught your child what to do and where to go it will help prevent them from panicking.
Make a plan. Know what needs to be saved and where it is. If you plan a routine for what to do if you are leaving your home in a hurry and you practice it with all family members it will become second nature.
If I where to ask you what is the first thing you would want to save (after people and pets of course) what would it be.
Inventory Your Home.
Electronics, appliances, jewelry, etc., keep receipts for large purchases with the inventory. As strange as it may seem inventory your clothing. This is especially important for anyone who spends a lot of money on clothing. Anything that cost more than $50 dollars should me listed as a separate item.
Get a Fire Safe
So many times I have seen people lose irreplaceable document, mementos and other important things due to fire or water damage. Having a fire safe lock box is good idea but a safe deposit box at your bank would be better. Make copies of car titles, birth certificates, social security cards, property deeds, and such then put the originals in safekeeping and leave them there.
Make sure you are adequately insured.
The worst situation I ever found myself in was going to rental properties to only deal with structure damage. I have actually had to explain to people that even though their content needs tended to I was not able to do anything other than move what I needed to complete my job. As heartbreaking as it is to see the loss they have already suffered and to know that there is likely more to come, the debate over whose insurance should pay what is someone else’s battle.
Renters often feel that they cannot afford Renters Insurance or are uneducated about actually needing it. I know that sounds strange but I have talked to a lot of people over the years that felt it was the landlord’s responsibility to provide insurance. This could not be more wrong! While most states require landlord’s to provide adequate insurance to cover their renters property, the property insurance will not actually pay for a renters belongings unless it is discovered that the cause of the fire was because of a structural malfunction, like bad wiring or a faulty water heater. Since this does not happen until after a lengthy investigation a lot of renters are initially left to there own devices.
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