By Sara Thomson
As a homeowner or renter, you can minimize the risk of fire, natural disasters, poisoning, or falls in your home. Purchasing homeowners or renter’s insurance as well as a flood policy are the first steps you can take to ensure protection in a potential disaster situation. Here are a few other ways to keep yourself, your family, and your home safe:
- Poisoning: Almost 90% of poisonings happen in the home, and are from prescription drugs– specifically prescription pain killers. According to the National Institute of Health, overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers has increased to almost 18,000 deaths per year or almost 50 people a day. Almost 55,000 children each year go to the emergency room each year for ingesting prescription medications. Installing safety locks on cabinets that contain chemicals or medications can prevent children’s hands from reaching deadly substances. Teach your children about the dangers of drugs that aren’t prescribed to them.
- Carbon monoxide (CO): CO gas is a silent killer as it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. There are about 20,000 emergency room visit from carbon monoxide poisoning and about 400 deaths per year. The only way to detect carbon monoxide poisoning is with a carbon monoxide detector. Install a CO detector on every level of the home, especially by the heating system, kitchen or garage where CO fumes are most likely to occur.
- Fire: Smoking materials (such as cigarettes) are the cause of most home fire deaths. Home fires start quickly and can become life-threatening in under two minutes. Within five minutes a home can be fully engulfed in flames. Smoke & Heat detectors are one of the best ways to prevent a fire, and should be installed in every bedroom, on every floor, and in the attic. A fire extinguisher should also be located on each floor, especially in the kitchen to stop any small fires from getting out of control. Ensure your family’s protection by creating an emergency escape plan in case of a house fire.
- Natural Disasters: account for 3 out of the 5 most common home insurance claims. While these disasters are not normally covered by standard insurance policies, they may be endorsed or requested through supplemental policies. Make sure you know what your policies cover, and consider purchasing a supplemental plan. Put together an emergency kit in case you need to leave your home quickly. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends collecting contact information from each family member, including cell phone and home phone numbers, as well as school and work phone numbers.
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