By Citizens Insurance
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Benjamin Franklin once said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to home safety, it’s an axiom that holds true today. That’s why we created this quick list of actionable tips that can help increase the safety of your home today, and reduce the chance of a future insurance claim tomorrow.
Ideally, your home should have one smoke detector per 1,200 square feet.
Kitchen heat sensors
If your kitchen has multiple appliances in close proximity that are run by electric or natural gas, installing heat sensors can alert you if there is ever an issue with any of the equipment. Also, never leave cooking food unattended on the stove or in the oven.
Be sure to check and clean your dryer vents regularly to avoid lint buildup that could lead to a house fire.
Garage area safety
If you have a living area over your garage, install heat sensors in the garage, and consider adding a smoke detector to the living area. Both the possibility and the severity of a fire is generally higher in a garage, due to the likely presence of heavy electrical equipment and flammables.
While the fireplace is in use, be sure to use a fire screen to contain flying embers inside. After use, be sure to dispose of your ashes properly by using a metal container (not a garbage can) that can be tightly closed. Douse the ashes with water and place the closed container outside your home away from combustible materials. Leave the container for several days before final disposal.
Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned each year to prevent buildup that could lead to a house fire.
Gated houses and Knox-Boxes
For homes that are gated, it is best to install a Knox-Box, which is a small, wall-mounted safe that holds keys for fire departments, police, and medical services to retrieve in emergency situations. If you have a Knox-Box, make sure to notify your fire department and provide them with the entry code.
Prevention is the best protection. Here are some top safety tips for protecting your home from burglary:
• Always lock doors and windows
• Use a burglar alarm that is professionally monitored and has cellular backup
• Replace any worn key pads
• Keep your home well-lit and curtains/blinds closed
• Use a secure safe or safety deposit box for valuable items
• Shred all paperwork with personal identifiable information
• Be mindful of disposal of packaging for larger electronics
• Don’t store keys outside the home
• When travelling, leave a locked car in the driveway and don’t allow mail to pile up
Warding off water
If you have rubber water lines, these should be replaced with steel braided water lines that contain nylon inserts. Rubber water lines tend to dry out and split quicker than braided lines, which are designed to last much longer. Braided lines are regularly available at all major home improvement stores.
Water security systems
Water shut-off and leak sensor systems are a great way to reduce the risk of water damage to your home, especially if you travel often. These systems are designed to stop the flow of water in the home if an abnormal flow is detected, reducing possible water damage to your home and belongings.
Main water valve
Knowing how and where to shut off your home’s main water supply is an important safety step. Use a valve identifier to mark your valve in order to more easily identify it in the event of a water emergency.
It is recommended that a battery backup be installed on sump pumps so that during a power outage, the sump pump will remain operational. You may also be able to connect your sump pump to a standby generator. Without power, your basement could be damaged by water intrusion.
Also, consider adding water backup and sump pump coverage to your home insurance. The Hanover offers flexible coverage options, ranging from $5,000 up to the full replacement cost of your home. This short video can help explain how this coverage works.
Protection against larger claims
Make sure railings are installed on staircases with more than four steps, or a drop off exceeding 20 inches from the ground. Such conditions increase the likelihood of falls resulting in possible injury.
Gutters should be directed so water is not discharged across your driveway or sidewalk. Otherwise, when temperatures go below freezing, ice can form in these areas which can result in slips and falls.
Trampoline and pools
Trampolines and pools should be situated within a fenced yard with a locking gate. This reduces the risk of use by uninvited guests. All trampolines should also be equipped with a safety net.
Trees and shrubs
Make sure your trees stay trimmed. Have any limbs removed that are hanging over your home to reduce damage that could occur in the event of heavy winds or a storm.
If you are planning to do a renovation, no matter how small or large, be sure to contact your agent ahead of time to ensure you are properly covered and that there are no coverage limitations.
According to a 2016 Insurance Information Institute survey, only 50% of homeowners said they had completed a personal home inventory. A personal home inventory is a great way to keep updated records of your personal possessions as they change over time.
The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.
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