A house fire can start quickly without warning. Even if you believe you know how to prevent a fire at home, there is still a chance that one can break out. Faults in electric wiring and other hazards can come seemingly out of nowhere. It’s always best to learn how to avoid fires at home, as this will significantly reduce your risk. If a fire does break out, you should be prepared. Learning more about Florida fire insurance policies and how fire cover relates to homeowners’ insurance can help you prepare for an incident on your property.
How to Prevent a Fire at Home: Common Fire Hazards to Avoid
Preventing a house fire is better than filing a claim for fire insurance. A lot of items you have on your house hold sentimental value and are irreplaceable. Not to mention the fact that computers, phones and other devices storing important data might also be lost. Even if your whole family manages to escape the house before the fire spreads, the loss will still be big.
Avoiding common fire hazards can help you and your family stay safe by avoiding fires at home. When it comes to avoiding fire hazards, the are a couple of things your can look out for – most importantly, you should know the most common causes of house fires.
Negligence as a Fire Hazard
You’re only human, and so is everyone else, but a lot of common fire hazards come down to forgetfulness and negligence. Whenever working with a potential fire hazard in your home, you should always be extra vigilant. Think twice, or even thrice before doing anything potentially dangerous.
You can’t remove all the potential fire hazards from your home, a lot of everyday things in your home could pose a risk. What you can do, however, is realize that potential fire hazards only have the potential to cause fires if you’re forgetful and negligent. Most of the things in your home that could theoretically start a fire will never get a point where that’s a real risk.
Alcohol consumption is another problem associated with negligence and house fires. When under the influence of alcohol, you should avoid doing anything that could lead to a house fire. Avoid all the fire hazards mentioned below if you are under the influence.
Fires from Cooking
Be extra vigilant while you cook. It’s easy to forget the stove on. Always check once you’re done cooking that all your stove plates or burners are turned off.
Set timers while you cook so you don’t forget to check up on things in the kitchen. Never leave your house with your stove or oven still on!
Keep flammable things away from your oven and stove top. This is especially important if you have a gas stove, as the open flame can easily set fire to kitchen towels and other flammable objects. Just remember, even cooking oil can start a bad fire.
When deep frying foods on your stove top, never leave the frying oil unattended. If the oil gets too hot, adjust the heat to a lower setting. If a fire does break out, never try to put it out with water! Water won’t help for an oil fire. If possible, try put the lid of the pot, or a non-flammable cutting board on the pot. This will starve the fire of oxygen, which will put it out.
If the fire is too big to safely cover it without injuring yourself, you’ll need to have a fire extinguisher on hand. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when you deep fry foods. Just don’t keep it right next to the stove.
If you get a fire in your oven, turn the heat off and keep the door closed so the fire will die out from a lack of oxygen. This might damage your over, but it could save your house from a fire.
Caution with Candles
A candle is like a little open flame in your house. This is why it comes as no surprise that the National Fire Protection Association lists candles as one of the top five fire hazards in your home.
While candles do pose a risk, you can still safely use candles in your home. Just be sure practice some caution. Here’s how you can avoid candles from starting a fire in your home:
- Never leave burning candles unattended
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets
- Never place a candle close to anything flammable
- Never fall asleep with candles burning anywhere in your home
Flammable objects to keep away from your candles can include books, curtains, paper and any other item that can easily catch fire. While lighting candles can be great for relaxation, you should never light a candle when you’re feeling overly tired. Falling asleep is one of the leading causes of candle fires in homes.
Fires Caused by Heating
We’re in the heart of summer and heating is probably the furthest thing from your mind – but when winter does come around again, make sure you’re prepared.
Fires caused by heating are the top cause of house fires, fire deaths and house fire injuries in America. Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of a heating burn:
- Keep flammable things away from your heating equipment
- Don’t allow children near heating equipment
- If you have a chimney, be sure to have in cleaned out and inspected annually
- Don’t leave heating equipment unattended
- Never leave the house with your fireplace burning, or your heaters still on
- Don’t fall asleep with your heating (fireplaces and heaters) still on
Fireplaces are open fires, so it’s especially important to keep flammable objects away from them. Hanging your Christmas stockings in front of the fireplace might look quaint, but they should always be removed before you make a fire.
Fires Caused by Smoking
Smoking poses a big risk. Always make sure cigarette butts are put out properly. Discard of cigarette butts in deep ashtrays. Alternatively, use outdoor ashtrays that are closed entirely at the top with only a small hole on top to collect cigarette butts in the tray. Don’t keep your ashtrays near flammable objects.
If possible, rather smoke outside the house, but still practice vigilance when discarding of cigarette butts. Never smoke near medical oxygen, as this can cause a rapid fire.
Ideally, smokers should quit. Doing so would improve overall health and eliminate smoking as a fire risk.
Electrical Fire Hazards
Knowing how to prevent a fire at home is more difficult when electrical fires are involved. Electrical fires can be sneaky and can come seemingly out of nowhere. Here’s what you can do to manage the risk:
- Make sure to only use electrical cords that aren’t damaged
- Check the cords of all your appliances to make sure they aren’t damaged before you use them
- Always call in a qualified electrician for your electrical work
- Only use one heat-producing appliance (heaters, toasters, kettles etc.) plugged into one outlet at a time
- Always plug big appliances like fridges and washing machines directly into the wall without an extension cord
- Use light bulbs with the correct wattage for your light sockets
Consider installing Arc-fault circuit interrupters at your home, as they’ll shut off power automatically if a dangerous condition arises.
Florida Fire Insurance Cover: Will Homeowners’ Insurance Pay out?
Fire insurance is often part of standard homeowners’ insurance packages and your homeowners’ insurance will likely pay out in the event of a house fire. However, don’t assume your insurance will definitely pay out in the event of a house fire.
Call your insurance provider to check how much cover you have for fire damage. Some companies will exclude fire insurance from their standard policies, meaning you’ll either need to get new home insurance, or add fire insurance to your current policy as a rider.
Make sure you are familiar with the terms of your homeowners’ insurance provider regarding house fire claims and familiarize yourself with what the terms are for claiming. Your insurance provider might require you to do an annual chimney or electrical inspection at your house to qualify for fire damage claims, for instance.
Most incidents of house fires will be covered by your insurance. The only common exceptions for fire damage cover is nuclear damage (which is an unlikely cause anyway, especially in Florida homes) and acts of war. Your insurance provider also won’t pay out if you intentionally caused a house fire.
Provided you have adequate cover, your homeowner’s insurance should pay out for the following:
- Damages to your house and property
- Loss of personal possessions such as furniture, appliances, clothing items etc.
- Liability costs of damage to other persons if the fire spread beyond your property
Please note, homeowners’ insurance won’t normally pay out for injuries you sustain on your property. If you or your family members are hurt in a housefire, you’ll probably need to rely on your health insurance to pay medical costs. Some items in your house, such as jewelry and cellphones are also excluded from your ordinary house contents, meaning you’ll need to cover some items separately.