Add “fire prevention” as must-have on wish list



With the temperature plummeting and more people trying to keep their homes warm, consumers need to make sure they are prepared in case a fire breaks out.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,451,500 fires in 2008. These fires resulted in 3320 civilian fire fatalities, including 2780 civilians whose lives were lost in residential fires in 2008.

Some of the most common causes of fires in homes are cooking, Christmas trees, holiday lights, candles, and wrapping paper.

“The winter months can get very cold, and unfortunately when that happens, a lot more fires occur when people try to keep their homes warm,” says Allstate spokesman John Heid.

With the holiday season right around the corner, Allstate and the American Red Cross offer the following fire safety tips:

•Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home.

•If people sleep with doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too.

•Use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month. When necessary, replace batteries immediately. Replace all batteries once a year.

•Vacuum away cobwebs and dust from your smoke alarms monthly.

•Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.

•Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Get training from the fire department in how to use them.

•Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler in your home.

If you follow these safety tips, you will be well on your way to a safe and happy holiday season. Accidents happen, though, so make sure you have adequate insurance coverage on your home and belongings.