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PIANJ urges fire safety in cold weather season


Trenton, NJ – The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey reminds homeowners and renters that with the cold temperatures, comes fire dangers. The trade association urges the public to take the time to review fire safety tips with their families so they will be prepared in the event of a fire emergency. 
This includes making sure that your home is insured properly before an incident. Insurers generally recommend that people insure their home for its full replacement cost, which means it is insured under a homeowners policy for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rebuilding it at the time it becomes necessary. If the homeowner purchases a guaranteed replacement cost endorsement, the full amount would be received to rebuild regardless of inflation. 
“Under a standard insurance policy, personal property and possessions will be insured for their actual cash value, which is its replacement cost at the time of loss, minus depreciation of its value and any deductible applying to the policy,” says Glenn Tippy, CPCU, CLU, president of PIANJ. “In order to receive full value for property, a policy should include replacement cost coverage, which also protects from both depreciation and inflation. Keeping your homeowners or renters insurance policy up-to-date and making sure all valuables are covered is important protection against tragedies.”
“The best way to practice fire safety is to prevent one in the first place,” says Tippy. “A tragedy such as a fire can happen at any moment. If you think something might be a fire risk, change it. You know your home better than anyone. The cliché, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure couldn’t be more true when it comes to fire safety.”
PIANJ suggests starting by keeping these general tips in mind:
  • Every home should have working smoke detectors. Ideally, they should be placed on every floor and in every bedroom.
  • Check all electrical appliances, cords and outlets. Make sure they are in good condition without loose or frayed cords or plugs.
  • Do not run electrical cords under rugs.
  • Don’t let lamps and/or night-lights touch bedspreads, curtains or other fabrics.
  •  Don’t leave the kitchen if the stove is in use. If you must leave the area, turn off the burners.
In winter, heating is the main cause of house fires. A primary danger is space heaters, especially the electric ones. “Because they are small, they may seem harmless,” Tippy says. “But placed close to furniture or curtains, they can be deadly.” 
Never leave a space heater on when you are not in the room. Do not go to sleep with it on. Use it to warm the bedroom, but shut it off before you climb into bed, advises PIANJ.
If you have a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned professionally at least once a year, and make sure they’re kept clean and covered with a screen to keep the sparks from jumping out.
Most importantly, plan a “get out, stay out” plan, advises PIANJ. 
“Practice fire drills at home,” suggests Tippy. “Identify a safe family meeting spot and practice it so everyone will know what to do in the event of an actual fire in the home. These drills can make the difference in the event of a real emergency. Fires are frightening and can cause panic. By rehearsing different scenarios, your family is less likely to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do. Test your plan. Have a drill in the middle of the night.”
Professional independent insurance agents are neighbors, friends and family to those they help to insure. Their greatest concern is for their communities and the safety of those that comprise them.
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.