TAMPA, FL – October 6, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4 – 10) is a perfect time for home and business owners to assess their properties to determine how vulnerable they may be to fire coming from both outside and inside – and then take actions to prevent losses, the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) said today.
“Along with making sure that traditional items like smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are working properly, it is important that property owners and managers also consider fire risks that are unique to where they live and work,” explained Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS.
Today in California and Arizona, firefighters continue to battle dangerous wildfires, and as always, face challenges with regard to protecting homes and commercial structures in harm’s way.
“We want to make sure that citizens of California, Arizona, and the other 36 states with wildland fire exposure know that there is valuable, free information available to them that will help keep their property safe,” Rochman stated.
IBHS has step-by-step, regionally specific wildfire protection guides to help home and business owners better prepare and take control when it comes to protecting their property against wildfires.
“For example, residents and business owners in wildfire-prone areas should keep landscaping and yard structures (e.g., play sets, trellises and wood piles) at least 30 feet from their homes and businesses. Maintaining clean gutters and removing dead foliage from areas close to buildings also are easy but important wildfire protection steps,” said Rochman.
Home and business owners can download the free, regionally appropriate copies of the IBHS Wildfire Property Protection Retrofit Guides.
Unfortunately, as cold weather starts to descend on parts of the country, improper use of alternative heating sources will cause serious home fires, as is the case every year.
“Weather experts are predicting that El Nino – best known as a weather pattern that helps quell hurricanes – will result in one of the coldest winters on record this season. This comes at a time when many people are in financial distress and will be looking for cheaper alternatives to traditional heating sources, such as fireplaces, space heaters, wood stoves and pellet stoves,” Rochman stated.
“The first, most important step to take when planning to use an alternative heating source is to ensure that carbon monoxide detectors are positioned in several places throughout the building,” she explained. “Any heat source should be kept away from items that could ignite; vents and chimneys should be kept clean; and power cords should be checked for frays, cracks, broken wires and for possible overheating.”
Home and business owners can download free copies of the IBHS Alternative Heating Guide for information about how to properly install, use and maintain a variety of alternative heating sources.
“Electrical fires consistently rank among the top five causes of commercial building fires Preparation, safety, employee training, and continuous education are the most important practices a business owner can undertake to help minimize potential losses related to electrical safety and maintenance,” Rochman said.
Business owners can download free copies of the IBHS Commercial Electrical Safety Guide to learn more about how to reduce the risk of electrical fires by recognizing the warning signs, following operational requirements and using the right materials.
IBHS is a recognized leader in property protection research. “We take what we learn from extensive research and translate it into practical information for home and business owners to use in reducing their risk of loss from fires and many other hazards, including hurricanes, hailstorms, severe winter weather and floods,” Rochman concluded.
Visit the IBHS Web site, http://www.disastersafety.org/, for complete information on property protection strategies related to wildfire and interior fire.
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.
Brenda O’Connor (813) 675-1043
boconnor (at) ibhs (dot) org