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Protecting Your Home Against Fire
Chubb Personal Insurance

Protecting Your Home Against Fire

Damage and loss due to fire, smoke and resulting water damage is the number one reason for home insurance claims in Canada. Most fatal home fires occur at night when people are asleep, totally unsuspecting that something in the dwelling is amiss.


Those who have experienced the trauma of home fire know that prized collections of art, antiques or wine can quickly represent a total loss. With the substantial investment that you have made in your home, your recreational properties and their contents, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your family members to be among the most “fire savvy” consumers.


Beyond following basic fire safety tips, there are many aspects of home maintenance that need your attention so that you and your family can rest easy at night. We’ve provided some of them here.


Smoke Alarms

NOTE: Many provincial building codes requires smoke alarms to be installed between the living and sleeping areas in all newly built dwelling units, or where major renovations are carried out.

 

  • There are two main types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Both can be wired into the household electrical system or operated from battery power, and both provide effective protection. Some units incorporate emergency flashing lights.
  • DON’T use rechargeable batteries in your smoke alarm. Rechargeable batteries give no warning that they are wearing out. A dead battery in your smoke alarm leaves you and your family unprotected. 
  • Smoke alarms should be installed each sleeping area, and on each level of your home. In a bungalow, it may be sufficient to have one alarm in a common passageway from the bedrooms to the living area.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed right in the bedroom if bedroom doors are closed at night. This is particularly true if heaters or electrical appliances of any kind are used.
  • Smoke alarms are not suggested for kitchens, bathrooms or garages where there may frequently be fumes, steam or exhaust that could set them off unnecessarily.
  • Mount the alarm high on a wall or on the ceiling, away from corners, not too near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with proper operation


Wood Fireplaces and Chimneys

NOTE: Inform your insurance agent or broker whenever you make any changes. Such changes may affect your insurance policy's coverage.

  • Use properly seasoned wood and follow proper burning techniques to minimize production of creosote – the material that forms in your chimney, and which causes most chimney fires.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher (4-5lb.) within easy reach of a wood fireplace – obviously not too close!.
  • Consider using a fire-retardant spray on the rugs closest to your fireplace.
  • Keep heat proof gloves nearby. The fastest way to get a burning log off the floor and back into the fireplace is to pick it up – with the gloves on!
  • Install non-combustible child guards where toddlers are present.
  • Remove ashes into a covered metal container and place outside or on a concrete floor until thoroughly cool. NEVER dispose of ashes in your garbage while they are the slightest bit warm.
  • Arrange for annual chimney inspection.
  • Check the chimneys and flue pipes often for creosote.
  • Have your chimneys and flue pipes inspected and cleaned annually by a certified professional. Have corroded pipes replaced immediately.
  • Existing older fireplace units and chimneys should be inspected to ensure they meet some of the new safety guidelines. Some fire departments do this as a public service.
  • Installation of a new chimney or wood fireplace, and replacement of existing ones should be inspected by certified personnel.


Fire Extinguishers

 

  • Train your family members in proper and safe operation.
  • Keep one in the kitchen, one near the barbecue and one near each fireplace as well as in any workshop area where specific tools and combustibles may be used.
  • Check units every month for possible loss of pressure or damage.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance plan.


Electrical

  • Don’t overload your circuits. If you find that fuses are blowing repeatedly, don’t replace them. Call in an electrical contractor to check out the entire system.
  • Never use a higher amp fuse than what is called for.
  • Never use a higher wattage light bulb than what is called for on the fixture.
  • Don’t plug outdoor lights into standard household outlets. Consider installing a heavier outlet with a separate circuit, specifically for the lights.
  • Never plug appliances (including microwaves, kettles and frying pans) into an extension cord. Plug directly into the wall socket.
  • Any major work involving new lighting should be inspected by your local power company.