In case of an Emergency
Fire can completely engulf a building in minutes. A fire department responds to a fire in the United States every 17 seconds. A residential fire occurs in the United States every 82 seconds. Cooking related accidents usually cause more residential fires than any other known cause, and careless smoking is the leading known cause of residential fire deaths. Arson is the No. 1 cause of nonresidential fires. Being prepared can help to minimize the risks of fire and can be the key to helping you and your family survives a house or building fire.
Quick Tips... Home Fire Safety
- Make a written, photographed or videotaped inventory of household possessions and store it in a safe place.
- Install smoke detectors and replace the batteries every 6 months.
- Install a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Make and practice an escape plan. All family members need to know what to do in case of a fire.
- An escape plan should include at least two ways of escaping every room.
- Choose a safe meeting place outside the house.
- Practice ways to alert each household member in case of fire.
- Practice fire safety techniques such as staying low to the ground.
- When escaping feel all doors before opening them. If the door is hot, get out another way.
- Stop, drop to the ground, and roll if your clothes catch fire.
- Post emergency numbers near telephones to quickly be able to call for help should you have the time to safely call before the fire becomes too threatening.
Fire Prevention In Your Home: What Can You Do?
- Check electrical wiring
- Replace any frayed or cracked wiring.
- Make sure wiring is not located under rugs or over nails.
- Do not overload outlets or extension cords or try to bypass a circuit breaker. Outlets must have cover plates so there is no exposed wiring.
- All appliances and electrical devices should be labeled UL or FM laboratory approved.
- A working smoke alarm can reduce the risk of death in a residential fire by 40% to 50% according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Install smoke detectors on every level, near bedrooms, in the garage and away from air vents.
- Test the batteries monthly and replace them every six months.
- Anything that could get hot and catch fire such as blankets, clothing, curtains, and furniture needs to be kept away from portable heaters.
- Heaters should be plugged directly into the wall socket and unplugged when they are not in use. Do not use extension cords with electric heaters.
- Keep items away from the stove that could catch fire, such as towels, clothing and curtains.
- Keep an operable fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and know how to use it.
Fire Escape Drills
- Plan and practice a fire escape route from every room.
- Install a chain ladder to each second floor room if possible and practice using it.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but how to get out safely.
- Decide on a meeting place outside the house in case of a fire.
- Know how to call and teach children how to call for emergency assistance.
During A Fire
If a fire occurs in your home...
- Get out as quickly and safely as possible.
- Use the stairs to escape - - never use an elevator.
- Close doors in each room as you leave to delay the spread of fire.
- Since smoke rises, crawl low, under the smoke, and keep your mouth covered.
- Feel closed doors with the back of your hand. If hot, use another exit, if not hot, open the door slowly and check for smoke and fire.
- Meet at the designated meeting place outside, and then call for help. Do not go back into the house if you suspect a fire.
After a fire strikes...
- Give first aid where appropriate. If you identify any injured or burned victims seek professional medical help immediately. Do not go into damaged buildings once the fire is extinguished, and do not re-enter any structure without the consent of the fire department.
- Do not discard damaged goods until after an inventory has been taken.
- Save receipts for money you spend because of a fire loss. They are very important in order to prove the value of the goods lost.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
- Delay permanent repairs until your insurer approves reimbursement.
- Prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property.
- Take photos of damaged areas.
- Call your insurance agent to report your fire loss as soon as possible.
- Meet with your adjuster first, before signing anything with contractor, lawyers or public adjusters.
Are You Really Prepared For The Big One?
Oh sure, youve heard it before, but have you really done anything about it? Although theres a constant risk of an earthquake happening at any time, we often go for long periods of time without experiencing a major earthquake. So, we tend to put them out of mind, and put off taking steps to protect ourselves, our family, and our home from the devastating damage an earthquake can cause. But when a quake hits and damages our home and disrupts our lives, we remember the be prepared message, and regret not having done what we could to protect ourselves and limit the damage.
Possibly the most important thing to know about earthquake insurance is this: A basic homeowners policy does not cover earthquake damage. Even if you dont live in an area where earthquakes are common, its possible you might need earthquake insurance.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, earthquakes have occurred in 39 states. Approximately 90 percent of Americans live in areas considered seismically active. Even so, only a small percentage of people purchase earthquake insurance. Even in California, where earthquake fears are a daily fact of life, only 17 percent of homeowners and 20 to 25 percent of people in all types of housing have earthquake insurance according to the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).
Before an Earthquake:
- Make sure shelves are secure and designed with latching doors or raised edges to prevent objects from falling.
- Consider attaching top-heavy furniture to walls or the floor.
- Store breakables and heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Overhead lights, heavy artwork, and mirrors need to be anchored.
- If INDOORS, stay indoors. Move away from windows that may break and furniture or large objects that could fall over. Take cover under a table, bench or desk and hold on, or go to an interior wall or hallway.
- If you're in a CROWDED ROOM OR PUBLIC PLACE, do not rush for exits. If outdoors, stay outdoors. Move to an open area away from trees, buildings, utility poles and lines, or signs.
- If in a VEHICLE, pull to the side of the road as quickly as possible, but keep away from overhead hazards such as trees, buildings, utility poles and lines, signs, and bridges. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops.
- If you're in a THEATER OR STADIUM, stay in your seat or get under it if possible, and protect your head with your arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking is over.
- Evacuate cautiously only after the shaking stops taking your keys, wallet, purse, coat, and any emergency supplies with you.
- Look for signs of building damage or for persons who are injured or trapped on your way out.
- Watch for falling objects as you leave.
- Turn on a battery-powered or vehicle radio if available for information.
- Do not use the phone for local calls if possible, except emergencies, during the first 15-30 minutes after the earthquake. Overloading the phone system with non-emergency calls may delay the delivery of emergency services.
Know your risks and be prepared.
Floods and flash floods are the most common natural disaster, occurring in all 50 states. Floods cause devastating damage to buildings and personal belongings. One in three flood insurance claims are generated outside areas considered "flood-prone." Homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood damage due to storm or natural disaster.
- Do you know if you live in a flood-prone area, whether your property is above or below the flood stage water level? Do you know the history of flooding in your region? This information is very useful in knowing how to plan and can be obtained through your local Red Cross chapter.
- Know flood-warning signs.
- Get information on being prepared if floods and flash floods happen in your area.
- If you live in a frequently flooded area, a stockpile emergency building materials could prove useful. These include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, hammer and saw, pry bar, shovels, and sandbags.
- Have check valves been installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains? Contact the local American Red Cross chapter and ask for a copy of the community flood evacuation plan.
Plan an Evacuation Route
- Know locations of local shelters, and safest routes to those shelters.
- If you live in a flash flood area it would be wise to have several alternative escape routes in mind.
Decide on an Emergency Communication Plan
- Have a plan for getting back together in the event family members get separated from one another during a flood.
- Designate a family member from out of the area to call in the event a flood occurs. If family members are separated, this contact can inform other family members of your location.
- Everyone in the family should know the name, address, and phone number of the contact person and know to call there to make contact with the rest of the family members.
- All family members should know how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Children should know how and when to call 911, the police, fire department.
- Children should also know how to tune into the local emergency broadcast station.
Flood Disaster Supplies
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Emergency food and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines
- Cash and credit cards
- Sturdy shoes
During a Flood...
- Tune into a battery-operated radio for the latest storm and emergency information.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks, and containers with clean water in case tap water becomes contaminated.
- Bring in outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture.
- Move valuable household possessions to the upper floors of the house or to safe ground if time permits.
- If instructed by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main switch and close the main gas valve.
If you are indoors:
- Turn on a battery-operated radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
- Round up emergency supplies.
- If instructed to evacuate, carefully follow instructions.
If you are outdoors:
- Get to high ground and stay there.
- Avoid walking through any floodwaters. Even water 6 inches deep can be dangerous if it is moving swiftly.
If you are in a car:
- If you come to a flooded area, find an alternate route.
- If your car stalls, don't attempt to move the stalled vehicle. Abandon it and get to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
During an Evacuation...
- Your battery-operated radio is the source for evacuation instructions.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes - - shortcuts may be blocked.
- Leave early enough to avoid being marooned by flooded roads. Evacuation is much simpler and safer before floodwaters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
- Before leaving, contact relatives in the closest state and tell them where you are going.
- If time permits, move valuables and furniture to the highest point in the house in order to avoid water damage.
After A Flood Strikes
Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede.
- Listen to a radio or television and don't return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
- Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - - infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
- Inspect foundations of your house for cracks or other damage.
- Stay out of buildings if floodwaters remain around them.
- When entering buildings, use extreme caution.
- Wear sturdy shoes and use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings.
- Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to make sure the building is not in danger of collapsing.
- Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwaters.
- Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
- Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance claims.
- Look for fire hazards, broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances, and flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream.
- Throw away food - including canned goods - that has come in contact with floodwaters.
- Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
Call your insurance Agent to see if you need to file a claim.