Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Disaster: FIRE Part 1

I wanted my first topic to be on a subject that everyone would find useful. And that is fire! I was shocked to read in several of my preparedness books that fire causes more deaths and property damage than most natural disasters combined. A house fire can be devastating and is commonly overlooked. There is a much greater chance of a house fire in a person’s lifetime than the world ending. One book said a house fire occurs every twenty minutes!

This disaster, and it would certainly be a disaster for anyone unfortunate enough to experience it, can threaten everyone. So would I like to write an article about building mountainside bunkers? Heck yeah, sounds like fun, except for the fact that I have no idea on how to do that. I’ll research those ideas for the future. Instead, I thought this topic would be universal and useful.

This last July we had fireworks in Las Vegas for the Fourth. Several nasty house fires were the result of carelessness. I sat in my front yard listening to the sirens and shaking my head, happy that they weren’t heading down my street. That made me think of fire as the disaster scenario for my blog.

Before I get into fire alarms and other topics, I want to mention a reality. Insurance. Make sure your house has the proper coverage. It’s a huge financial investment for you and your family. Have a copy of it in a safe place. Include pictures and a list of important items in you fire safe (another post), a safe deposit box or at another family member’s house.

You can also post your copies in “the cloud” on an online storage location such as Google Drive, Picasa, etc. Another technique is to take a video using your camera phone and go through each room, filming everything you own. Put that video in a safe place in case something happens because you will forget up to 30% of what you own in the event of a disaster.

Emotionally, it is awful not to have your belongings around you. Insurance will at least help you re-buy clothes, letting the Red Cross donations go to another family. Photos are often shown of people finding cherished mementos in the rumble in the aftermath of a tornado etc. That is less like in the case of fires. And what you do find might be unusable do to smoke and water damage.

If you rent, look into renter’s insurance. It doesn’t cost that much and you can link it to your car. Renter’s insurance runs between about $10 and $25 a month and will cover your personal belongings if they’re lost to a disaster or stolen. The other two key benefits are that it provides discounts to your other lines of insurance as well as establishes time with the company, which can save you money down the line when you purchase a home or condo and it provides liability coverage.

For example, if you’re cooking and step away from the stove to check on your kids or a text, and a fire starts and spreads, you are responsible for any financial damage caused by the fire or the efforts to put it out (such as water damage to apartments below yours). The liability protection in your renter’s insurance policy will protect you whereas if you don’t have one, you have to pay for that damage out of your own pocket.

In my future posts I am going to go into fire alarms and extinguishers. I’ve learned that some companies offer a discount on the cost of your insurance coverage if you mention it to them.

Hey, every penny counts.

A special thank you to Amanda Clothier for her consulting advice.

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