For many homeowners and renters, the end of Daylight Savings Time is their cue to turn on their heating systems. It also means it’s time to check on carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke alarms, furnaces, gas and water heaters, and fireplaces; each year, malfunctioning or misused appliances and detectors cause devastating house fires across Canada – which in turn can affect your home insurance premiums. Here are some steps to take to keep your home, and payments, from burning up.
A Seasonal Danger
“As Daylight Savings Time ends, making the time to create a safety checklist that includes reminders like replacing batteries in your CO and smoke detectors, is a wise investment that will help keep families safe at a minimal cost,” says Ralph Palumbo, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Ontario division.
IBC recommends checking and replacing batteries in smoke and CO detectors twice a year, coinciding with Daylight Savings Time changes. Detectors should be tested once a month, by using the test buttons provided on the units.
Installing new detectors? CO units should be installed on every floor of your home, but never near windows, vents, bathrooms, smoke alarms, or heating and fuel-burning appliances. Smoke alarms should be installed on every storey, including the basement. Do not place smoke alarms within one metre of a doorway to kitchen or bathroom (steam and humidity can negatively affect the battery), within 30 centimetres of fluorescent lighting, inside a garage, in excessively dusty or dirty areas, or in areas where objects such as drapes may block the sensor.
Check On Your Fuel Appliances
It’s also a good time to have fuel-burning, heating appliances such as oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges, ovens and fireplaces inspected by a professional; according to the most recent report on fire losses from the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, 10 per cent of all fires at residential dwellings in Ontario in 2007 were related to heating equipment.
In addition to checking detectors, alarms, and fuel-burning appliances checked, IBC also recommends the following safety tips:
1. Review your family’s emergency plan, or create one for the first time. Hold a meeting with family members to explain what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.
2. Check your first aid kit and replace missing supplies.
3. Have a professional make certain that your vents and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.
4. Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers’ instructions.