What You Need to Know About Smoke Detectors & House Fires

What You Need to Know About Smoke Detectors & House Fires

Having a working smoke detector can reduce your risk of dying in a home fire by half. That’s why the National Fire Protection Association asks us all to be alert this fall- late fall and winter are when the number of home fires spikes.

While we depend on firefighters to put out fires and save lives, we all need to do more to protect our families until they can get there.

Here’s what you can do to make your family and home safer:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in all bedrooms
  • Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries once a year (normally the Sunday when Daylight Saving ends)
  • Replace smoke detectors every ten years
  • Practice fire drills and evacuations

Smoke alarms can cost as little as $15 for those that use batteries, hardwired models will cost more. Some fire departments offer low-cost or free smoke detectors for families with financial hardships.

There should be one placed in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas and on every floor of a home.

Here are some important things to remember about home fires:

  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, followed by heating equipment
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths
  • Only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan

These safety tips can prevent a fire at your home:

  • Never leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven
  • Avoid using candles and if you do make sure they are away from flammable materials and extinguished when you leave the room
  • Don’t smoke in bed
  • Have your furnace inspected every year by a heating professional
  • Keep portable heaters three feet away from flammable materials
  • Don’t use frayed cords and don’t overload outlets

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

5 Most Common Things Not Covered By Most Home Insurance Policies

5 Most Common Things Not Covered By Most Home Insurance Policies

You may believe that everything in or around your home is covered by your homeowner’s policy, but that may not be the case. Sure home insurance will help you rebuild if there’s a fire, tornado. or a tree falls onto your home, but are you aware of what your insurance doesn’t cover?

These are the 5 most common things not covered by most home insurance policies:

  1. Earthquake and Land Movement
    • As landslides and earthquakes have become more common in many states, many people are surprised to learn that earthquake or land movement damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. You need to purchase separate earthquake and landslide insurance protection.
  2. Floods
    • Multiple surveys have found a majority of homeowners and renters thought their property insurance protected them from flooding; it doesn’t. If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider purchasing flood insurance, provided primarily by the federal government. Keep in mind there is a 30 day waiting period before any flood policy can go into effect.
  3. Sewer Backups
    • The sludge from sewer backup can do serious damage and make your home unsafe until it’s properly cleaned up, but it’s not covered under most homeowner insurance policies. Your insurance company can provide a special endorsement to cover sewer or sump pump backups. What you may not know is that homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of sewer and water lines through their property up to the sewer main, and many cities and utility departments will deny responsibility for most sewer incidents.
  4. Maintenance Issues
    • Insurance companies can dispute payment of damage or injuries if you fail to repair a broken step or other obvious hazards, or for mechanical breakdown of an appliance. In most cases, you will also need a special rider to cover food that might be lost due to a power outage or failure of a freezer or refrigerator.
  5. Expensive Jewelry, Fine Art, Firearms, Musical Instruments, Furs, and Collectibles
    • Many people learn after a fire or tornado that their precious items only had minimal coverage. You’ll need special scheduled personal property coverage, often called a “floater,” to make sure they are protected for their full value. In fact, 60 percent of homeowners have not documented all the valuable things they own. What does that mean to you? Completing a home inventory can speed up your claim and help you determine how much coverage you need. Download our easy Home Maintenance Checklist, and stay prepared for a disaster before it’s too late.

For more information on what home insurance does cover, visit our website at www.mycalcas.com/home-insurance  

 

Related Articles:

Flood Insurance is a Necessity Everyone Should Consider

Complete a Home Inventory

Know Your Insurance: Climate Change Protection    

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Winter Maintenance for Your Home and Auto

Winter Maintenance for Your Home and Auto

During the winter months, snow, sleet, ice, and freezing temperatures can really take a toll on your home and vehicle. Fortunately, there are some relatively easy things you can do to help protect your car and home from any serious damage from the effects of winter weather.

 

Winter Home Maintenance Tips:

  1. Check Your Pipes

Colder winter temperatures can cause frozen pipes in your home which has the potential to cause major damage. So, it’s important to make sure your home is properly heated and you take the necessary steps to prevent your pipes from bursting.

  1. Clean the Gutters

Remove all leaves and debris that have collected in gutters. This allows water from rain, snow, and ice run off to properly drain away from your home. Not only will this extend the life of the gutters, it also helps protect the foundation of your home.

  1. Seal Windows and Cracks

Drafts from cool air from outside can cause your heating bill to skyrocket.  If the cold air is getting in, that means the warm air is getting out. Heated air escaping your home may create an ice dam on your roof! Make sure you seal all cracks and leaks (especially in the attic), windows, and doors with caulk or weather stripping. And, don’t forget to cover air conditioning units.

  1. Winterize or Cover All Outdoor Items

Disconnect and drain hoses for winter storage and install a faucet cover to protect from freezing. If you have a sprinkler system, make sure it’s properly winterized. Place any lawn equipment or patio furniture in a safe place where they will not be harmed by weather – or critters looking to make a warm home for winter.

  1. Clean the Fireplace

Fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a professional once a year before use. Blocked or dirty chimneys cause millions of dollars in damages annually. To prevent a house fire, follow these chimney safety tips. Don’t forget to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

 

Winter Auto Maintenance Tips

  1. Do Routine Maintenance

In cold weather tire pressure decreases. With every 10 degree drop in temperature, tires lose about a pound of pressure. Be sure to monitor and adjust tire pressure regularly. Additionally, batteries lose power and motor-oil thickens up, so it is important to get your car fully serviced and inspected before extended periods of cooler temperatures.

  1. Make Necessary Changes

 You don’t want to get stuck in the snow and ice, so it’s a good idea to check road conditions before getting behind the wheel. Consider switching to snow tires or using tire chains. If you have a new driver at home, be sure to help them get acclimated to the differences in the way the vehicle handles in winter weather conditions.  

  1. Keep Fuels Full

Keep coolant (anti-freeze) and gasoline as full as possible. The more gasoline in your tank, the less water can get in and freeze. This is beneficial, especially if you get stuck. Coolant will help your engine from freezing up and prevent corrosion. It is recommended to use a 50/50-mix of anti-freeze and water.

  1. Invest in a Winter Wiper Fluid

During the winter you need a wiper fluid that will not only keep your windshield clean, but will also help it defrost. A  De-Icer wiper fluid is designed specifically for winter, removes frost and ice quickly, and protects against freezing down to -27 degrees F. Of course, make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and replace if needed.

  1. Have an Emergency Kit

Even with maintenance and taking every safety precaution, you can’t predict the unpredictable. That is why you should keep an emergency kit full of helpful supplies with you in your car at all times. The kit should include a flashlight, blanket, lighter, food, water, windshield scraper, wireless charger, and other supplies you would need to survive for an extended period of time.

 

Related Articles:

Winter Driving Safety

8 Winter Driving Tips for New Drivers

Getting More Traction: Best Tires for Winter

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Scary Insurance Mistakes to Avoid

Scary Insurance Mistakes to Avoid

October can be a “scary” time of year, but it doesn’t have to be frightening for those who take the proper precautions in protecting their property. With that in mind, here are…

Five ways to ward off scary insurance mistakes that can stop you dead in your tracks this Halloween season:

 

1.Protect against uninsured and underinsured drivers.

It’s estimated that one-out-of-seven drivers don’t have insurance. But, there are many more drivers that purchase bare minimums. Make sure you have protection with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. For about 20 cents a day, you can be protected against unexpected medical bills if you or your vehicle is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver whose mask slipped over their eyes.

2. Purchase renters insurance.

Many renters think their landlord’s policy will cover them in the event of a fire, storm or other malady. Your landlord’s property insurance only covers the building, not the things you own. Renters insurance covers your prized possessions, loss of use of the home or apartment you rent and liability protection in case someone gets hurt on the premises. Plus, the cost is as little as $10 to $20 a month.

3. Make sure you have flood and earthquake coverage.

Most homeowner or renters insurance policies do not include damage from flood and earthquakes. Without separate flood and earthquake insurance, you could be stuck paying for all the damage and a place to live if your home is uninhabitable.

4. Have appropriate insurance for your home or vehicle.

What happens if jack-o-lantern candle accidentally starts a fire? Or someone trips and falls on your steps? Without enough coverage for the damage or liability, you could be paying out of pocket for a claim.

5. Update your coverage.

Did you recently add a new room to the house or have you purchased new electronics, appliances or jewelry? Maybe you got married in the past year or have a new driver in the household. Get a policy review to make sure the new items you purchased are covered. Additionally, you should update your insurance after a life event such as marriage, divorce or there is a new driver in the house.

 

Don’t make any scary insurance mistakes that will haunt you. Connect with a California Casualty advisor today!

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

The 6 Most At-Risk Fire Areas of Your Home

The 6 Most At-Risk Fire Areas of Your Home

Wildland fires are becoming the new norm across much of the country, scorching more acreage with a ferocity that firefighters have not seen before. Now, more than ever, it’s important to understand fire behavior and the ways to prepare your home and community.

Don’t let your family’s possessions go up in smoke. The difference of a home in ashes and one still standing is often the result of simple actions taken to make the structure more survivable to heat, flame and embers. Removing bush, trimming trees, and creating 30-100 feet of defensible space is the best line of defense, but there is a lot more that homeowners and renters need to do.

As more people move into wildfire-prone areas, it’s imperative that we understand the areas around a house that are the greatest risk. Fire research has discovered blowing embers, not direct flames, cause most homes to ignite.

Here are the 6 most at-risk most vulnerable fire areas in and around your home.

  1. The Roof– This is the largest surface area on your home. Installing fire-resistant shingles can greatly reduce the risk. A Class A roof (asphalt shingles, metal, slate or tile) is considered the best protection. Repair any gaps in shingles and remove debris from plants or animals that an ember could nest in and ignite. Keep gutters free of flammable litter.
  2. Vents and Eaves– It’s imperative that homeowners keep flying embers from entering a home. Uncovered vents can allow hot ash and embers in. All vents should have a damper or screens to block embers from getting into the structure. If a fire is approaching, cover vents with duct tape, metal tape or plywood. Areas under eves are notorious for trapping burning ash and cinders. Clear them of nests and leaves, and make sure that the area is reinforced with fireproof materials.
  3. Windows– Extreme heat will warp window casings and shatter single-pane glass. Homes in fire-prone areas should have dual-pane tempered glass, with metal screens to block any flaming debris. Covering them with plywood if a fire is approaching also can help. If possible, installing roll-down metal shades over windows offers the best protection.
  4. Landscape– Create a five-foot fire resistant zone next to your home. Eliminate flammable plants such as junipers, dry grasses and scrub oak, replace wood mulch with rock or gravel, trim bushes and trees, and cut back overhanging branches that could allow flames to breach your dwelling. Trees should be dispersed and trimmed 10-feet from the ground
  5. Decks– These are another vulnerable area for embers and flames. Homeowners in fire-prone areas should consider lightweight concrete or metal decking. Fire-resistant treatments can help protect deck boards. Fire experts say most deck ignitions are created by flammable material on or under the deck (furniture, leaves, pine needles, woodpiles or mulch).
  6. Your Neighbor– All the work by homeowners to clear brush, remove woodpiles and trim trees up 10 feet from the ground can be for naught if nearby neighbors haven’t done the work. Property overgrown with weeds, brush and trees can endanger others, causing a wildfire to spread more rapidly and grow. Neighbors working together can greatly reduce the risk while increasing the survivability of their entire community. The National Fire Protection Association, in conjunction with other fire safety groups, has created the Firewise USA program, to organize homeowner associations, neighborhood groups and entire communities, and teach them how to work together to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Download the infographic here.

At Risk Fire Areas in Your Home - Infographic

Stay ahead of the flames; talk with your neighbors about wildfire safety, prepare an emergency kit, make plans in case of evacuation and if family members become separated, and start mitigating threats to your property and structures.

Get a review of your homeowners or renters insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for your property and belongings, and make a comprehensive home inventory. If the worst should happen and your home is damaged or destroyed by fire, you can find answers to your “what now?” questions here.

A California Casualty advisor is always ready to help review your policy, give you a free quote or help you start a claim at 1.866.704.8614 , or you can visit www.calcas.com.

 

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This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

Chimney Safety

Chimney Safety

As the weather gets cooler, there is nothing cozier than curling up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot up of coffee and a good book.

Millions of people in the United States have fireplaces that they primarily use during the fall and winter to create a comfortable environment and to warm their homes. However, without the proper maintenance, a fireplace can turn from cozy to deadly in a matter of seconds.

On average over 22,000 chimney fires occur in the United States every year. That estimates to about 125 million dollars in damage to homes. Chimney fires are can be caused by stray sparks and high temperatures, however, most are caused dirty, unkept chimneys.

To prevent a chimney house-fire from happening follow these Chimney Safety Tips:    

  1. Get your chimney cleaned yearly
  2. Cut and trim all overhanging branches
  3. Install a screencap on top of chimney
  4. Monitor the flue temperature
  5. Keep the fire screen closed
  6. Let ashes cool down
  7. Dispose of ashes far away from house
  8. Never burn trash or debris
  9. Only burn dry hardwood
  10. Keep firewood at least 30 ft. away
  11. Never leave chimney unattended
Chimney Safety Tips Infographic

It is also important to make sure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarms have batteries and are working properly. 2/3rds of fire deaths occur in homes with missing or non-functioning smoke alarms. 

Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every bedroom near doorways, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home near cooking devices and fireplaces.  

Be safe this season, follow our chimney safety tips, and remember to have your chimney professionally cleaned and maintained before it’s first use to avoid a house fire.

For more safety tips click here.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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