Fire and theft are two of the most devastating things that can happen to your home. So, how can we protect our homes from the worst?
- What are the most common causes of house fires?
- How can you stop thieves getting into your home?
- What should you do after a fire or theft at home?
...make sure any mirrors or items containing lenses or glass aren’t facing the sun or left in a place where the sun can reflect from them onto materials or objects"
What are the most common causes of a house fire?
When it comes to housefires, the Government have revealed some shocking statistics…
- You’re around 8 times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm in your home
- Around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
- Two fires a day are started by candles
- Every six days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette
- About three fires a day are started by heaters
- Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 4,000 fires in the home across the country every year
Cooking - Fires start when your attention stops, so never leave your cooking unattended. Be extra careful when cooking with fat – it can easily set on fire. If fat gets too hot and starts to smoke, take it off the heat to cool down. Never pour water onto hot fat.
Plug sockets - Don't overload sockets with multiple plugs. More than one plug in a socket can start a fire, especially if the appliance uses a lot of power, e.g. a washing machine or tumble drier.
Electrical cables - Keep an eye out for scorch marks, split cables, exposed wires and loose connections. If you find any of these, take the plug out of the socket and have the cabling looked at by a qualified electrician.
Candles - Fragranced candles are a lovely way to perfume your home and create a cosy, relaxing ambience. Avoid leaving candles unattended or near flammable things like curtains or paper goods… and never leave them on when you pop out!
Smoking - Every six days, someone dies from a fire started by a cigarette. Don’t leave cigarettes alight and make sure you stub them out properly when you’ve finished smoking.
Open fires - If you have (or are installing) an open fire or log burner in your home, please let your insurer know. To manage your fire safely, always put a spark fireguard in front of an open fire and use an all-enclosed guard, too – especially if you have young children or pets. Do not hang clothes to dry or put anything flammable (like newspapers) on the guard as they’ll catch fire or get too hot to handle and could cause burns.
How can you make your home fire safe?
Buy approved smoke alarms for your home
Choosing the right smoke alarm is important. If you're not sure what type of smoke alarm is right for your home, you can always ask for advice at your local fire station. Depending on the size of your home, you might consider having more than one alarm. For the highest level of fire security, install a smoke detector in every room apart from in the bathroom and kitchen. At the very least, you should have one smoke alarm on the hallway ceiling of each floor of your house.
Check your smoke alarm works
It's easy to check if your smoke alarm is working properly. Simply press the button on the alarm – if it makes a sound, it's working fine. If you press the button and the test alarm doesn't sound, change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Ideally, set a monthly reminder for yourself to check your smoke alarm works.
What should you do if there’s a fire in your home?
1. Make sure you and everyone in your home is safe and far away from the fire. Call the fire brigade straight away.
2. Do not go back into your home for anything, nothing is more important than you and your family staying safe.
3. When the fire has been put out, give our claims team a call and we will help you in every way we can
How can you protect your home from fires during Summer?
Sun’s out, burger buns out? We all love to BBQ when the weather gets warmer but if BBQs aren’t handled correctly they can quickly become a fire hazard. According to the London Fire Brigade, you should never use a BBQ indoors, on a balcony or in an enclosed space. They also say that you should position your BBQ on ground level away from anything flammable such as sheds, fences, trees or tents. Remember, don’t use petrol or any flammable liquids on your BBQ. Firelights are the safer option.
Keep mirrors away from windows
You wouldn’t necessarily think having your mirror near a window could cause a fire, would you? Well, the summer sun is higher in the sky which can cause sunrays to reflect off mirrors and start fires. Reflected light from the sun directed rays from magnifying vanity mirrors onto curtains which caused the curtains to catch fire. The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service attended two house fires because of this last year, so their advice is to make sure any mirrors or items containing lenses or glass aren’t facing the sun or left in a place where the sun can reflect from them onto materials or objects.
How to stop thieves getting into your home
Although you may be able to claim on your home insurance for damage and stolen items, it’s never a nice feeling to know that an intruder’s been inside your home.
There are lots of things you can do to make your home secure, and put off potential thieves. We take a look at how you can turn your home into a fortress…
Invest in an alarm system
A quality alarm system is a very worthwhile investment. For less than £1,000, you can get a state-of-the-art alarm system fitted at your home; it is one of the best things you can do to deter potential burglars. As well as creating an ear-splitting noise, most alarm systems these days can also be centrally monitored, either by a security company or the police. When you’re researching which alarm company to use, make sure you check they are National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) approved.
Check how strong your locks are
Much like a decent alarm system, it pays to spend money on decent locks for your home. Where possible, install a 5 lever mortice deadlock – these are locks which are embedded into the actual body of a door, and are harder to force open.
Some home insurance companies will insist you have certain locks like a 5 lever mortice dead lock or 3 multi-point locking device, on all main doors to your property, so it’s worth checking what you’ve got. Pay for a professional MLA licensed locksmith to do a security survey of your property. You’ll also be able to get them to change the locks if they’re not up to scratch.
Are the doors and windows secured?
Get into the habit of locking doors and windows when you go out – gone are the days of leaving your front door on the latch! It’s worthwhile checking the door itself, as well as the frames around it, are strong and secure. Look for weaknesses or splinters in the wood, as this will make it easier for a burglar to force entry to your home.
Smart home security systems
Fans of the latest tech will know that there are a number of cutting-edge home security gadgets available to homeowners these days. They include things like motion-activated security cameras, smart ‘peep holes’ which link directly to your phone or tablet, as well as smart security lighting which activates when your front door bell rings.
Install security lights around your home
Motion sensor activated lights will tell you if there’s someone creeping around your garden or down the side of your house at night. Intruders are less likely to try and break in if they’re lit up for all to see. Make sure that any exterior lighting you do fit is high up and out of reach, so it can’t be tampered with.
If you have had an alarm system fitted, most security companies will also provide stickers or signs you can put up to show that your home is secure. This can be a great deterrent for a potential thief. If you don’t have any security systems yet, consider investing in some realistic ‘fake’ signage – it can sometimes be just as effective as the real thing.
Make friends with your neighbours
It sounds obvious, but how well do you know your neighbours? We live in a society where we know less and less about the people who live right next door to us. But in fact, your neighbours could be your greatest ally in helping you secure your home. Neighbours can keep an eye out for any unusual or suspicious activity at your property. If you go on holiday, they can put your bins out, make sure your mail doesn’t pile up, or even park a car in your driveway – all to give the appearance that you’re still at home.
What should you do if you’ve been burgled?
1. Call the police straight away and give them as much information as you can. Make a note of the crime reference number you're given - you'll need this later. Sometimes the police will only provide you with a crime reference number by post, once you've reported a loss.
2. Try not to disturb anything in your home, as this may destroy valuable evidence. The police will advise you about this when you call. When the police arrive, they will often dust round the point of entry or exit for fingerprints, so try not to touch these areas.
3. Write down a list of what has been stolen, and as soon as you can, give us a ring if you need to claim on your home insurance. We can give you useful information to help you deal with this unpleasant crime.
Your home is your safe haven, so let’s do everything we can to keep it that way, but if the worst should happen, we’ll be here to help…
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