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This is the first of a two-part series on fire prevention. Check back next week to see more fire safety tips.

There are nearly 24,000 house fires each year in Canada. Teaching your family about fire safety may protect your home from becoming a fire statistic and, more importantly, keep your loved ones from harm.

Your fire safety plan should include a review of fire hazards in your home, an evacuation plan with different designated escape options, and a prearranged safe meeting place outside of your home. Fire statistics confirm many preventable house fires are caused by inattention while cooking with oil or grease.

“Never leave the stove for any reason when cooking with hot oil,” said Rick Barks, Assistant Vice- President of Personal Lines at SGI CANADA. “As well, never put water on an oil fire as this causes the oil to splatter and may spread the fire further which could cause severe burns. Should a fire occur, use a lid to smother the fire. Better still, don’t cook with oil, it’s healthier.”

Candles have also been the cause of many home fires. People seldom realize that candles are an open flame and can be dangerous. Other than candles, very rarely do people want an open flame in their home.

Barks recommends that when using candles, make absolutely sure they are properly supervised, away from pets, small children and combustible materials such as draperies, wood and paper.

“Never leave your home or go to sleep with a candle still burning,” said Barks. For added protection, your home should not be without working smoke alarms in key areas such as the kitchen, bedrooms, hallways and basement.

“Also, remember to check the smoke alarms each month to make sure they’re working and always change the batteries at least once a year,” said Barks.

You should also keep a complete record of your belongings. Having a detailed list of your belongings greatly assists in making the adjustment of a claim go much smoother should the unexpected occur. There are various recording options available such as writing a list, taking photos, or shooting a video of your home.

Always store your list, photos or video in a safe place away from your home in a safety deposit box, at a friend’s house, your office or with your insurance broker.

For more information on protecting your home, contact your insurance broker annually to ensure your policies are accurate, up to-date and provide the coverage your family needs.

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