Homeowners face uncertainty and risk each day, as do the insurance companies that insure the homeowner. Many areas are a concern to both insurer and homeowners whether it is acknowledged or not. Topics such as a change in climate, extreme weather conditions, as well as the homeowner themselves the consumer.
There are times that we are our own greatest threat. Have you ever considered what role you as a homeowner play in the prevention or minimizing of a claim? Have you ever taken the time to review safety and prevention in your home? We took a poll in our own office to see how well informed we are ourselves (those who work in the industry) and how much care do we put into prevention. There is an old proverb – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
These are our results.
WHEN EXTREME WEATHER IS IN THE FORECAST, DO YOU WALK AROUND YOUR PROPERTY TO ENSURE DOWNSPOUT ARE ATTACHED, TARPS ARE SECURED, DOORS FASTENED, THINGS THE WIND COULD CARRY AWAY ARE TIED DOWN?
There was nearly a 50% split of those who check the property every time, and those who did not (or they checked after the extreme weather was over). One situation which was presented was the falling ice off of a condo building that lands on the cars after the storm, think twice about your parking spot in the next ice storm.
DOES EVERYONE IN YOUR HOME KNOW WHERE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ARE LOCATED AND DO THEY KNOW HOW TO USE THEM?
At Erie Mutual, it is mandatory to have a working fire extinguisher in your home, but many times we fail to ask, does everybody know how to use one, and know where it is? Every person answered yes, except one home where a spouse was unaware of a new extinguisher under the kitchen sink. The only exception was that no one had taught their young children to use a fire extinguisher.
DO ALL SECOND FLOOR BEDROOMS HAVE A PLANNED AND DISCUSSED ESCAPE? REMEMBER TO PRACTICE THIS PLAN!
Only two people said yes, of which only the one also had an escape ladder (they have young children at home). The rest had let the evacuation plan go by the wayside as time went on or did not have a second level.
DO YOU HAVE SAFETY CONCERNS IN THE BASEMENT, INCLUDING BASEMENT BEDROOMS?
We also asked about concerns for the basement entertainment are and any basement bedrooms. Especially questioning whether or not a person could fit through the basement windows if an escape was necessary? Everyone with a basement bedroom had windows that you could escape from, one even went as far as opting for larger basement windows when building. However, it was mentioned that in one home furniture would need to be moved in order to reach up to the window and exit.
DO YOU TEST YOUR SMOKE ALARM REGULARLY?
With every building and home, there must be smoke detectors and we wanted to know how often are people checking them. Much thanks to the common household exposure of burning toast or burnt cooking, there were a few who admitted that they are continuously reminded that the detectors are working. Most everyone had tested their smoke detectors at the latest since the time change (the typical Spring forward, Fall back reminder to change batteries). One very thorough person has a reminder to check detectors the first of the month with a calendar reminder set to do so.
ANY SAFETY IDEAS TO SHARE?
Finally, we asked our staff if anyone could share ideas of any good safety measures used within the home. Some great practices came up! Place your fire extinguishers in a place where it is easily accessible and not a place where the actual fire would be of the greatest concern. Your fire extinguisher will not be helpful if it is too hot to reach it. One person will not leave the house while any appliances that use heat are in use such as the dishwasher or drier. Good practice?
Never take safety for granted. The point is that we are expected to be safe, have a plan for our homes for whichever stage of life we are at, families with young children or empty nesters. At any stage, think of a plan and implement it. In Canada, insurance companies combined to average over $1 Billion in property claims payouts each year, we all need to do our part to be aware and educate, be safe and prevent what is preventable!
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