September, 2010 – As autumn approaches and evenings begin to cool down, Mother Nature is signalling to homeowners that it is time to prepare their home for winter by taking measures to prevent the devastation of a house fire. Not only do fires come with a risk of injury to loved ones, but they also burn through years’ worth of possessions and memories. According to Allstate Insurance Company of Canada’s claims, reports of fire loss jump during the winter months. January alone accounted for 15 per cent of all fire losses reported in 2009.
“To combat the colder, shorter days and to celebrate the holidays, the use of candles, lights and appliances increases,” says Tony Irwin, official spokesperson for Allstate Canada. “Homeowners also make use of heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves, all of which can result in a fire if not used or cleaned properly.”
The majority of fire losses can be prevented if proper precautions are taken. This autumn, consider these tips from Allstate Canada to help keep you, your family and your home safe this winter.
- Heaters can be a source of winter fires. Inspect them every autumn to ensure they are in good working condition. If you have a gas heater, inspect the exhaust for carbon build up.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year if you have a woodstove or use your fireplace.
- Embers from a roaring fireplace can start an unexpected fire or injure someone. Make sure you have a glass or metal screen properly positioned to keep embers under control.
- If you haven’t already, install smoke detectors on all floors of your home. Take the time to sit down with your family and prepare a fire plan. It should detail escape routes and include a designated meeting place. Make sure to hold regular drills so your family knows how to escape safely in the event of a fire.
- According to Allstate’s claims data, common causes of house fires include electrical fires and cooking-related accidents. Be careful not to overload your outlets by using power bars for several small appliances. If you have a gas stove in your kitchen, keep rags, paper or anything that can catch on fire, away from open flames.
- Inspect your home for frayed or damaged electrical cords and plugs, as well as fuses that regularly blow. Consider hiring a licensed electrician to inspect your home’s electrical system to make sure everything is working properly, especially if you live in an older home.
- Christmas tree lights and electrical ornaments should be in working order with no wires showing or fraying. A pine tree that catches on fire can set an entire room ablaze in less than a minute.
- Careless disposal of fireplace ashes can be a serious threat to any home. Ashes need four days to completely cool. Do not dispose of them in a paper or plastic bag. Instead, keep them in a can away from combustible materials until completely cool and then discard them.
- Keep trash or combustible materials away from your furnace and keep an eye on the wall behind it for discolouring or cracking. It could be a sign that you need a pipe replaced.
About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada produces and distributes home and auto insurance products across Canada. “The Good Hands Network(R)” enables consumers to contact Allstate through one of 93 community Agencies, directly online at www.allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-allstate.