In most years, fire is the largest single cause of property loss in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 400,000 home fires in the United States each year. Residential fires kill several thousand Americans each year and average $5 billion to $6 billion in property damage annually. There are numerous steps you can take, however, to reduce your exposure to this deadly peril, including the following.
· Smoke alarms should be installed in various parts of your home, including bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. Homes with smoke alarms typically have a fire-related death rate that is 40 percent to 50 percent less than the rate in homes without alarms.
· Fire extinguishers should be kept in the garage, kitchen, and on each floor of the house. The potency of these extinguishers should be checked on a semiannual basis.
· If you are about to build a new home, consider the installation of a sprinkler system. These systems have proven to be very effective in suppressing most fires before the fire department arrives. In addition, they normally add only about 1 percent to the cost of a new home and last for the life of the home.
· Never leave burning candles unattended. Fires often start when children, adults, and pets inadvertently overturn candles.
· Properly maintain your clothes dryer, which is a big cause of fires in the United States. The dryer vent should be kept clean, the lint screen should be removed and cleaned after each use, and a qualified technician should periodically inspect gas clothes dryers.
Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.