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Farm Talk on the Front Porch

RSS By: Grinnell Mutual,

You face risks as you cultivate crops and raise livestock. We’ll share tips, stories and recommendations to help you protect property and prevent costly losses on the farm. It's our Policy of Working Together®.

Be safe at home: use a smoke detector

Dec 30, 2013

Your home is a safe haven for your family. Or is it? Fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires in 2011. That’s one home fire being reported every 85 seconds (National Fire Protection Association). Be proactive. Follow these tips to keep your home and family fire proof.

Smoke detectors – Do you have one? Do the batteries work?

Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors led to an almost 50% decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s. 

"Many homes may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working," says Alan Clark, Grinnell Mutual's assistant vice president of Special Investigations. Each year, the Special Investigation Unit conducts approximately 20 investigations involving fire fatalities throughout the Midwest. "We want residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. And, if a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced.

"A widespread problem we see is that home owners disconnect or remove the battery rather than replacing it when their smoke detector starts chirping," says Clark.

It’s estimated that 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. Don’t be fooled. If the batteries don’t work, the smoke alarm doesn’t work. Check your batteries each month. Start today.

Fire safety plan

The fire alarm sounds. You may have as little as two minutes to escape. Save time by making, planning, and practicing a fire escape plan with your entire family. (Learn how to make a fire escape plan.) Remember, once you get out of a burning building, stay out and call the 911.

"People often don't understand how quickly fire spreads.  Escape plans make a difference.  When an emergency situation occurs, people's reactions to get out will be second nature if they’ve practiced their escape plan.  If not, they'll panic," explains Clark.  "It's no different than what your fire service does – they train so they know how to react in emergencies.  If a fire breaks out in your home, get out and stay out.  Then call the fire department from a safe location."

Home fire sprinklers

Your risk of dying in a home fire decreases by 80% when properly installed and maintained automatic fire sprinkler systems are present. A sprinkler system also protects your possessions, reducing the average property loss by 71% per fire. Fire sprinkler systems have been around for a century to protect commercial and industrial properties and public buildings. Invest in your home and the precious people inside with a home fire sprinkler system.

Grinnell Mutual tested the effectiveness of a home sprinkler system in a Grinnell Mutual Talks about Safety videocast.

For additional information and fire safety tips for you and your family, visit the Safety Talks section of Grinnell Mutual's website,  

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