Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Be fire-prevention smart this winter

Wherever you live in Canada, the winter months are some of the most dangerous times for residential fires. The result of one careless action can cost a family thousands sometimes millions of dollars in damage and loss. The experts at Desjardins General Insurance suggest that you can protect your home and loved-ones by just following these simple tips:

• Equip your home with smoke detectors. If they are well located and maintained, they can save your life. Clean them regularly and replace the batteries twice a year, typically in March and November when clocks are reset. Also consider equipping your home with a fire alarm system connected to a remote monitoring centre.

• Place one or more fire extinguishers in locations that all family members can access easily and be sure you know how to use them properly.

• Maintain your furnace and hot water heater on a regular basis. This should also include replacing your furnace filter every 90 days. This ensures optimal operation, but also prevents carbon monoxide from entering your home. Since this gas is colorless and odorless, make sure to install a carbon monoxide alarm.

• Clean your furnace and/or fireplace chimney regularly to prevent creosote build-up.

• Be careful when using cooking oil. Always cook french fries in a deep fryer equipped with a thermostat rather than in a saucepan. Remember that a deep fryer costs less than the deductible you would have to pay in the event of a claim.

• Keep cooking surfaces, walls, stove and range hood clean as grease deposits can catch fire easily.

• To avoid electrical fires, carefully inspect surge protectors, extension cords, lamps and other electrical devices. Anything that rattles, looks frayed or worn should be thrown out.

• Keep an eye on candles. It's very easy to knock over candles and votive lights. So keep these covered or secured on high tables, away from children and pets.

If you do have a fire this winter, keep in mind that you may not receive full market value for your home if it's destroyed. The value of home insurance policies is typically based on the cost to rebuild the house, not to sell it on the marketplace. Replacement costs will include the material (lumber, roofing shingles, siding material, carpet, drywall, etc), the labour costs, architectural services and so on. It is important if you do any renovations or additions to your home, that you let your insurance company know, as this could change the replacement cost of your home.

To learn more about fire prevention visit the Desjardins General Insurance Group website: www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance.com.

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