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At Mid-State Insurance, we are committed to providing our clients with the insurance protection they need in case they ever have a fire in their home. But we have another, even higher priority. And that is encouraging both our clients and the public to take steps to reduce the risk that they will have a fire in the first place.
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that there are between 350,000 and 400,000 house fires annually in the United States. And more than 3,500 people die and another 18,300 are injured in those fires. This makes home fires an even bigger disaster threat to familes than hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters.
The theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign is "Protecting your Family from Fire!" So here are a few tips to help do just that:
- Make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order. Every home should have a fire alarm on every floor. Be sure to replace the battery at least once a year and test it regularly. Massachusetts also requires homes to have carbon monoxide alarms.
- Take care with appliances. Follow the manufacturer's operating instructions and safety precautions. don't leave your stove, oven, or dryer operating when you leave the house. Clean the dryer filter after every load, and clean the vent to the outside twice a year.
- Use space heaters, fireplaces, and alternative sources of heat wisely. The National Fire Protection Association reports a huge spike in home fires during the fall and winter months. Space heaters are a major culprit. If you do use a portable heater, keep it at least three feet away from bedding or other combustible materials, and turn it off when you leave the room or go to bed. Never use a generator, camp stove or gas, propane, or charcoal-burning device inside your home, garage, basement, or other enclosed areas. If you have a fireplace, be sure to use a screen and have your chimney cleaned annually.
- Prevent electrical fires. Be careful not to overload circuits or power strips. Do not place extension cords under rugs or in traffic areas.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children. Children are fascinated by fire. Store matches and lighters out of their reach, and avoid buying lighters that look like toys.
- Use fire extinguishers - but with caution. Purchase a portable fire extinguisher and learn how it works. Use the extinguisher only when the fire is confined to a small area, the room is not filled with smoke, everyone has gotten outside, and the fire department has been called.
- Have an escape plan. Develop an escape plan from every room in your home, teach everyone about it, and designate a meeting place. Fires strike suddenly and spread quickly. Every second counts. So if there is a fire, be sure to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and CALL 911.