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Roof Care 101: Repair vs. Replace

Storm season is approaching, which means the elements may wreak havoc on your roof. You may find a leak or missing shingles, but how do you know if you should repair or replace your roof?

REPAIR VS. REPLACE

If you have a suspicion that the roof may need repairs or need to be replaced, start in the attic. Look for beams of sunlight coming through the roof boards, this could indicate a leaky roof. If light can shine through, so can other elements, like rain and snow.

REPAIR

Only one area is damaged

It’s definitely easier to repair or replace a small section that’s restricted to one area.

Only a few shingles are affected

If only a few shingles are affected, you can simply repair or replace those. But if your shingles look worn across the whole roof, you may consider replacing it.

There’s one leak

Be sure to get any leak fixed quickly before it causes further damage to your home.

 

REPLACE

Cracked shingles

Storms can be quite the hazard for shingles. If multiple shingles are cracked, a new roof may be in order.

Curled shingle edges

You’ll recognize curled shingles if the edges turn upward or the middle of the shingles are coming up. Look at your roof from the point that receives the most direct sunlight. This will give you an easier viewpoint to tell if the shingles are curling.

Sagging roof

If your roof looks like it’s sagging, this could become a big problem to your home. Look for rotting boards and trapped moisture. Visible moss on the surface can be an indicator of trapped moisture.

A general rule is to get your roof inspected about once a year and after each severe weather event, including heavy wind, hail or snow. Be sure to contact a professional roofing contractor for a full evaluation or to ask any questions regarding the care of your roof.

 

Wet Conditions

Always wait to work on the roof’s dry surface, even if you’re just examining it. If work has begun on your roof and the forecast calls for rain, stop work altogether. With the right tools and know-how, you can protect your hard work from succumbing to the rainfall.

  1. Do not start roofing when the roof sheathing is wet.
  2. Be sure to have tarps ready to go in the chance of a rain shower.
  3. Cover the decking with tarp while the weather turns wet.
  4. Allow the roof deck to fully dry if it has gotten wet already.

Just as you would not work in rainy or icy conditions, do not expect your roofing contractors to do so either. In fact, if a worker continues to work in the chance of rain showers, this may be a red flag. Roofing in the rain is not only unsafe for those working on it, it can also expose your home to damage.

Your roof keeps you covered, and Madison Mutual knows how important coverage is for you and your home. Contact a Madison Mutual agent today to find the best home insurance policy for you.

 

fire safety tips

7 Fire Safety Tips to Keep You Safe During the Cold Months

As the cold weather creeps upon us, many homeowners and renters will begin turning on their furnaces or fireplaces to keep warm. Before the winter arrives, however, we need to take a step back and think about fire safety. Each year, approximately 3,400 people’s lives are taken in home fires or by burn injuries. Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 fire-related deaths occur at home.

Fires can be largely preventable, and Madison Mutual is here to help keep you safe. Here are 7 of our best tips to help you prevent fires in your home:

Watch What You’re Cooking – Did you know that cooking, especially stove-top cooking, is the leading cause of home fires across the nation? These accidents are preventable and mostly occur because someone is distracted. When you’re cooking, give the task your undivided attention! If you do happen to leave the kitchen for some reason, don’t leave the stove on. Turn off the burner before you leave the room instead!

Give Heaters Some Space – Space heaters are a leading concern in the winter months since sheets and window curtains can come in contact with a unit in use and ignite. Give your space heater some, well, space! Make sure that the unit has 3 feet of clear space all around it in all directions, and keep it away from draperies, bedspreads, furniture, other people, and pets.

Get Your Furnace and Fireplace Inspected – Before the winter arrives, be sure to get your furnace inspected and serviced by a professional. This will not only help prevent fires but will also keep you warm throughout the cold months. Have a fireplace? Make sure to get it serviced and cleaned annually as well.

Check Your Electrical Cords – Cords that are frayed or cracked can pose as a danger to your home. They can easily create sparks, and if those sparks reach flammable surfaces, you could have a fire on your hands. Remember to check all of your electrical cords periodically and replace those that are in good shape.

Install Working Smoke Detectors – This is one of the best defensive moves you can make in protecting yourself and your home from a fire. Put a smoke detector on every level of your home and outside of each bedroom. Remember to test and clean them every year and replace the batteries twice a year.

Be Careful With Candles – Candles are a mainstay in many households across the nation, but they can also be a common source of home fires. If you light a candle, be sure to remain in the room with it and extinguish it whenever you leave the room. You can also consider using battery-operated candles that look and function like a real candle.

Create a Solid Escape Plan – It’s always a smart idea to create, review, and practice an escape plan! Teach the members of your family to stay low to the ground and practice escaping from each room frequently. Additionally, keep a fire extinguisher nearby in an easily accessible location, and teach everyone in the family how to use it.

Be sure to protect your home as well. Home insurance can help protect you, your family, and your valuables in the event of a fire. If you’re in need of more information or a home insurance policy, call the best – Madison Mutual. You can reach us at 1-800-766-MMIC or learn more online at www.madisonmutual.com.

fall home

9 Quick Tips to Help You Prepare Your Home for Fall

As summer comes to a close, cooler temperatures, cascading leaves, and shorter days will serve as reminders that fall will soon be here! Even though fall has just arrived, it’s always a smart idea to begin preparing our homes for the change in season. After all, the weather can change quickly as the season progresses, and you won’t want to be caught unprepared.

Here are 9 quick tips to help you prepare your home for the cooler weather that fall brings with it!

Get Your Furnace Inspected – No one wants the furnace to short out when winter is in full force. Take the time to get your furnace inspected by a professional. Additionally, remember to stock up on a few extra air filters and change them every few months if you don’t do so already.

Start Winterizing – Go around your home and check for drafts around the edges of your windows and doors. An easy way to determine if you have any drafts is to hold a lit candle a few feet away from the doors and windows; if the flame flickers, then there’s probably a draft. You can tackle drafts by replacing seals and repairing caulking and weatherstripping around your windows and doorframes. Additionally, consider purchasing heavier or insulated drapery to keep the cold out.

Test Home Safety Devices – Fall is a great time to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices. Test them to ensure that they’re working properly. If they don’t respond, replace the batteries. If you’ve had these devices for at least 10 years, replace them with new ones.

Clean the Gutters – It isn’t a pleasant job, but cleaning the gutters is one of the best things you can do when fall comes around. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from your gutters, and check for leaks by running a pail of water down the gutters and into the downspout. This can help prevent ice dams during winter.

Get Your Chimney and Fireplace Cleaned and Inspected – If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, make sure to have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional before winter sets in!

Turn Off Faucets and Store the Hoses – It’s time to put away your gardening gear! Drain your garden hoses and disconnect them from your outside spigots. Next, shut off the exterior faucets. Store your hoses in a dry place so any residual water won’t be able to freeze and damage the hoses.

Bring in the Plants – Do you keep plants or flowers in pots year-round? Now is the time to bring them inside! Keep them cozy indoors until next spring. If you have annuals in pots outside, empty, clean, dry, and store the pots for next spring.

Plant Bulbs – If you want to see some cute daffodils pop up and flourish in the spring, be sure to plant the bulbs in the fall! This also goes for other flowers like tulips, crocus, hyacinths, and snowdrops.

Close the Pool – Have a pool in the backyard? Before the temperatures dip, make an appointment for it to be serviced and close it for the season.

Of course, it’s always wise to check if your home insurance policy is updated, too! Remember to add calling your agent at Madison Mutual Insurance Company to the to-do list! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com.

house in winter

First-Time Homeowner? Prepare for the Impending Winter Weather With These 4 Tips!

We’ve been pretty lucky with the winter weather so far. It’s mid-January and we around the St. Louis region have seen maybe one snow event in certain spots and have enjoyed warmer weather than usual, aside from one or two cold snaps. Soon, though, the winter weather will come crashing in, and we will face big freezes and possible snowstorms and ice.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer and this is your first winter in your home, you might not know exactly what to do. Conquer the impending winter weather by following these 4 tips!

Make a Winter Emergency Kit – First thing’s first – make yourself a winter emergency kit! It’s very much like the all-purpose emergency kit that you should have in your home in case disaster strikes, but it includes a few additional items. Your winter emergency kit should include a supply of food, bottled water, medication for all family members and pets in your home, windshield scrapers, road salt and sand, additional hats and gloves, and additional batteries for radios to keep up with the news.

Keep Sidewalks, Stairs, and Banisters Clear – Before a storm hits, make sure to treat your sidewalks and stairs with ice-melting salt. Ensure that your stairs and sidewalks are in good shape and repair any that aren’t. If you are shoveling, take it easy out there, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Go slowly and take frequent breaks, and wear plenty of loosely-fitting clothing to keep you warm.

Inspect Your Furnace – No one wants to be without heat whenever the cold of winter creeps in. Before the weather makes a turn for the worse, get your furnace serviced by a professional. Remember to check the filter every month and replace it if it’s dirty. Typically, you will want to replace the filter once every 3 months so that your furnace will work efficiently.

Stay Safe If the Heat Goes Out – Sometimes not even all of the preparation in the world can prevent the heat from going out, especially if a blizzard or a strong wind comes along and knocks out the power. Should you lose power, stay safe by piling on plenty of clothing and using alternate heat sources with caution. Resist the urge to turn on the oven as a source of heat – it can put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, be sure to use a metal screen in front of its opening to prevent fires.

Taking these 4 big precautions this winter can help keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home safe from the harsh cold and elements that winter presents. Remember, too, to check in with your insurance agent here at Madison Mutual to see if it is up-to-date by calling 1-800-766-MMIC!

how to store Christmas decorations

7 Smart, Easy Ways to Store Your Holiday Decorations

Christmas is over now, and while you still might be enjoying your time now with your friends and family throughout New Year’s and the remainder of the Christmas season, it will soon be time to take down your Christmas decorations and store them away for next year. We know that putting all those decorations can be quite a chore, but if you do it properly, you’ll have an easier time assembling things next year!

Check out our 7 tips and tricks below for properly packing and storing your holiday decorations!

Be Smart About Tree Storage – Artificial trees can last for years and years to come if they are taken care of properly. Before you store the tree, think about its weight. Many are too heavy to wrangle into a trap-door attic or lug down a flight or two of stairs. To save yourself a headache (and a backache!), consider storing your Christmas tree on the same floor that it is used such as in a storage room, a closet, or even an attached garage.

Store Christmas Lights Tangle-Free – Storing lights after the holidays can be such a pain. It’s even more of a hassle when you revisit them in the following year and try to untangle the cords without breaking off or damaging the lights or wires. Avoid the tangled mess by using a piece of masking tape and permanent marker to label each strand. You can indicate how long it is or where you usually use the lights. Afterward, wrap the strands securely.

Protect Your Ornaments – Ornaments come in many different shapes and sizes and can be very fragile. Instead of tossing them in a box, try storing them in a container that is designed with layers and fill the empty space around each ornament with tissue paper to keep them secure. When looking for your container, try to choose something that is lightweight, has fabric-lined trays, and has plenty of padding.

Wrap Up the Gift Paper – If you’re not able to store your giftwrap, paper, tags, bows, ribbons, and tape in one small permanent area, you can put it all into an under-the-bed storage system. If there is no room under your bed for all of your supplies, your gift wrapping supplies can be stored in an organizer in a guest room closet.

Make Setting Up Villages Easy – Do you have Christmas villages? If so, you might know how much work it takes to set up the villages and all of the snow, landscaping, lighting, and accessories each year. Make set up easier next year by storing your villages inside of their packages and placing them inside a storage bin FIRST. Then place any snow, ground, and other accessories you might have on top of the village boxes. By doing this, you can set up the things that naturally go out first without having to dig through all of the village pieces.

Keep Your Wreath Safe – While relatively sturdy pieces, wreaths can be quite fragile, especially if they feature dried berries and twigs. Keep your wreaths safe, decorated, and fluffy for next year by storing it in a crush-proof container! Even though it might take up more space, the container will do a great job protecting what’s inside and can be stacked.

Keep Linens and Cloths Fresh – Want to keep your tree skirts, seasonal tablecloths, and other festive items fresh, fluffy, and protected from moisture, moths, and mold? Consider storing them in a hanging vacuum-storage bag. You can even store your plush winter throws in these storage bags, too. Next year, you can unseal these seasonal items, and they will be as fresh as they were when you stored them!

Your home is so much more than just a place to store decorations. Make sure that it is properly protected with the right home insurance policy. Call the experts at Madison Mutual Insurance Company by dialing 1-800-766-MMIC or by visiting us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

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6 Hidden Dangers in Your Home and What You Can Do About Them

You work hard to keep your house and family safe every day. You make sure that things are in their proper spot, that there’s food on the table, and that your children are safe after you tuck them into bed at night. In spite of all your efforts, your home is hiding some very real threats that are hiding right under your nose.

Here’s a list of 6 hidden dangers that are present in your home and what you can do to prevent them!

Power Surges – It’s easy these days to stay plugged into technology constantly. More than likely, your outlets are probably all filled with cords that connect to your tv, computer, and chargers for all of your electronic devices. Staying constantly plugged in, however, can lead to power surges. When lightning strikes, a power surge can damage your electronics and appliances and can even spark a house fire. Prevent this by investing in surge protectors and remember to unplug your appliances and electronics during severe storms.

Dirty Lint Traps – Laundry is enough of a chore as it is, so it’s easy to forget to attend to that lint trap in your dryer. Forgetting to clean out the lint trap can cause lint buildup, which can cause your dryer to overheat or start a fire. Make sure you clean out the lint trap before and after you use the dryer, and get your dryer vents cleaned every single year to ensure that the line is clear of lint. Getting the vent cleaned may help prevent a possible dryer-induced house fire and can keep your appliance running much more smoothly.

Carbon Monoxide Leaks – This is perhaps the deadliest of all hidden traps your home could have. Carbon monoxide (CO), which is often called “the silent killer,” results in about 15,000 emergency departments visits and nearly 500 deaths annually, according to the CDC. Fuel-burning appliances are oftentimes the source of these leaks. The best way to fight against any kind of CO leak is by installing carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, including the basement and outside all sleeping areas. Replace these alarms every 5 to 7 years for the greatest safety success.

Trip Hazards – It might be tempting to just kick off your shoes right when you walk in the door or leave your stuff on the sides of your couches and chairs, but these seemingly benign items can cause serious injuries if someone were to trip and fall. To avoid any unexpected falls, keep your home safe and clean. Storage bins and organizational units can really help in this department.

Foundation Cracks – Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer? You might not be too concerned with this odorless, radioactive gas, but as a homeowner, you need to be aware of it. Radon can move up from the soil and enter your home through cracks in your foundation and around service pipes and construction joints, even if you don’t have a basement. While you can’t smell or see radon, you can test for it easily with an at-home testing kit. If you find that your results say that you have an elevation of the gas, don’t worry – it’s fixable! The EPA says that some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels by up to 99%.

Unsecured Doors and Windows – Unlocked and unsecure doors and windows are essentially open invitations for burglars to come in and ransack your home. Remember to lock up your home every time that you leave and also during the night. Security cameras and floodlights can help ward off intruders as well.

We understand that maintaining a home can be stressful, especially in times of crises. Be sure that your home is protected in case anything happens – call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more! We are dedicated to protecting you, your family, and everything that is precious to you.

burglar

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your Home Against Thieves

Summer is coming up very quickly, and that means it’ll be time once more for some great barbeque parties with friends, vacations to exciting places, and leisurely times in the sun. It can be a total hassle to have to lock up your home every time you need to go uptown to the store to grab that bottle of A1, but it’s crucial to protect what is yours, especially in times of relaxation and sunshine.

While there is no sure proof method for securing your home against burglars, there are a few simple actions you can take to deter a criminal from choosing your home as their target. Read about these 5 easy tips below!

Use Your Locks – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 40% of all break-ins are not forced. That means that the burglar was able to walk, climb, or crawl to get inside a residence almost half the time! Prevent a break-in from happening by locking all of your entryways such as your windows and doors. Pay special attention to your sliding doors as well. Some older sliding doors can be popped off their frame, even when locked. Take a steer bar or a 2×4 and slide it into the back groove of the door to keep it secure.

Maintain a Presence – Sometimes thieves are deterred from a home because it looks like someone is home. That doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home at all! Simply make it look like you’re home, even when you’re not. Leave your lights and television on when you’re out. If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, invest in a timer device to turn on and off the lights to further simulate your presence.

Don’t Leave a Spare Key Out – Thieves are good at guessing your hiding spot, no matter how clever you think your hiding spot is. If you need to leave an extra key out, try leaving it in your wallet, a very trusted neighbor, or a close-by family member or close friend.

Secure Your Yard – Take a careful look at your landscape the way a burglar would. Are you unwittingly providing a hiding place for criminals? Trim back your greenery, particularly low shrubs in front of first floor windows, and trim any tree limbs that reach upper story windows!

Prepare Before Vacation – If you’re going to be gone for extended periods of time away from home, let the police know and request that they drive by your home on a daily basis until your return. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep a watchful eye on your home while you’re gone. Finally, hold your mail at the post office since piles of mail on your front porch are sure signs to burglars that the home is empty. Read more vacation prep tips here!

Have questions about keeping thieves out of your home? Need home insurance? Call the experts who care – Madison Mutual Insurance Company! You can reach us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to see how we can better serve and protect you!

dangerous spring weather

Get Ready for Wild Spring Weather With Our 10 Trusty Tips!

Ahhhhhhhh… smell that? Spring is in the air – finally! With the season of spring comes gardening, barbeques and beautiful but often tumultuous weather. That’s right, we are entering the rainy, windy, tornado-producing time of the year.

Tornado season typically lasts from March through early June, and if scientists are correct, El Niño could wreak havoc with thunderstorms this spring and summer.

We recommend taking the following precautions to ensure spring weather preparedness for you and your family. Follow our tips below to keep you and your family safe this spring!

Prepare Before the StormThe best way to protect your family against potential weather disasters and emergency situations is to be prepared. Here’s what you can do now!

Compile a disaster supply kit – This should include flashlights, batteries, a battery-operated radio, water, food, pet food if you have pets, medications, first aid kit, and important documents.

Make a game plan with your family – Figure out where your “safe room” is – typically, it would be your basement or most interior room. Also, determine where you will meet if anyone is separated, know who your out-of-town contact will be, and where you will keep your disaster supply kit.

Document Your Contents – Take pictures or videos of your home contents for insurance purposes and store at a friend’s or relative’s house.

Know Your Home – Be sure to locate your gas and water shut-off valves in your home!

Plan for Your Pets – Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and contact emergency shelters to find out if they accept pets, just in case an emergency occurs at your home. Always make sure to bring your pets inside during inclement weather!

Make Final Preparations – Before a storm enters your area, be sure to fill your vehicle’s gas tank, listen to emergency announcements, and follow any directions they give you. Also, get a bit of cash – without power, credit cards are unusable!
Be Smart After the Storm

Listen to Emergency Announcements – After the storm hits, wait for the “all clear” signal to know that it is safe to return home. Once home, be sure to check for damage in and around the house.

Call the Proper Contacts – Your loved ones are bound to be worried about you. Be sure to contact your out-of-town family members or point of contact to let them know that you’re okay. Also, contact your insurance provider to report any damages and check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled persons, to make sure they are also doing well.

Keep Your Pets Safe – If you’re a pet owner, confine your pets during the clean-up period and walk them on a leash until they become reoriented to the home. If you cannot find your pet, contact your local animal control office immediately.

Clean Up and Stay Safe – If you happen to have a mess on your hands after a spring storm, clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately. Repair or block access to anything in your home that is damaged and could cause injuries, and be sure to stay far away from downed power lines.

Enjoy the warmer weather that spring will bring, but remember how quickly it can change! If you receive any damage to your property, be sure to contact your Madison Mutual agent. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

final-walkthrough

Make Your Final Walkthrough Before Closing a Success With These 10 Tips!

The day has finally come. You’ve found your dream home, made the offer, and have had it accepted by the seller! You’ve had the home inspected by a professional, and your loan is finalized. Now you just can’t wait to move in and make it yours!

We don’t mean to rain on your parade, but you’re not finished quite yet! You have one more big step to take before making the house unequivocally and officially yours – you have to do the final walkthrough!

A walkthrough is more than just simply walking through the house and making sure the seller took all of his or her stuff with them. If done incorrectly, you could find yourself living less than happily ever after in your dream home. But have no fear! Just read the following 10 tips to help you have a successful walkthrough before closing happens!

Come Prepared – When you come to the final walkthrough, you should make sure that you have your contract with you – you might need to refer to it while you’re there! You should also take a checklist of all the things you need to test and check during the walkthrough to ensure that everything is functioning properly.

Ask Your Agent to Come, Too – It’s always a good idea to have an additional set of eyes and knowledge with you to help pick up on things you might accidentally pass up. Ask your agent to accompany you; they’ll help ground you if any issues happen to arise in the home.

Test, Test, Test – Take the time to do some testing in the house. Turn on all the lights and faucets and check for leaks under each sink. Flush all toilets, check that the appliances that you purchased are all there and working properly, and run the dishwasher. Don’t forget to turn on the ceiling fans, ring the doorbell, and make sure that the hot water heater works! The goal is to make sure that everything works.

Check Doors and Windows – With each and every door and window you come across in your soon-to-be home, check that they work. Open and close each door and window. Are they functioning properly? Are the screens on each window in place? Is anything major out of place? These are issues that should be taken care of before the home becomes yours.

Test the Heating and Cooling – Whether it’s the during the heat of summer, the dead of winter, or sometime in between, you should take the time to test both the heating and air conditioning in the home. A few minutes of possible discomfort can save you from days, weeks, or even months of misery.

Do Some Spot-Checking – While you walk through the home, keep your eyes peeled to the ceilings, floors, and walls for any signs of mold or mildew, especially if the property has been vacant for a while. While you’re looking for mold and mildew, check to see that the movers didn’t leave any damage as well.

Confirm Repairs Were Made – Your seller might have promised some repairs to be made to the home before you purchased it. When you’re going on the walkthrough, make sure that all the repairs that were outlined in the sales agreement have been completed. Also, make sure that the seller provided you with warranties for any work that was done to the home as well as manuals for all the appliances that they leave.

Check For Trash and Debris – Sellers are required to leave the home as clean as they can and to make sure that they take their personal belongings with them. Check around the home, including the closets and storage areas, to see if any debris, trash, or belongings were left behind.

Go Outside – Don’t forget about the house’s exterior! Go outside to see if there have been any changes in the landscaping of if any damage has occurred, especially if there has been a strong storm since your last visit.

Get the Keys – If everything checks out, be sure to get all the keys to the home and the garage door opener. If you happen to be buying a condo, you’ll need the keys to your mailbox, storage space, and the common areas, too.

If there happen to be any issues to resolve after you’ve completed the walkthrough, you may need to delay the closing date until everything is amended and complete. If the date can’t be moved, work out the issues during the closing and have the seller compensate you for any costs.

When you purchase a new home, you’ll want to be sure to tell your insurance agent all about it so he or she can update your policy and make sure that you’re being covered properly. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to let us know about it! Don’t have home insurance? We can do that! Call us to see how we can protect you and what matters most in your life!

Kid with firetruck

7 Essential Tips to Help Protect Your and Your Family From Fire

When a fire strikes, several lives are turned upside down. In fact, according to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 4,000 people die in the United States, and 25,000 people are injured every year due to house fires. Sadly enough, many of these incidents could have been prevented with education and a plan.

Be sure you and your family are protected from fire and, in the event of a fire happening, your family is safe. Follow these 7 tips to help ensure your safety.

Install Working Smoke Alarms – Having smoke alarms in your home is one of the best defensive moves you can make in protecting you and yours from a fire. In fact, properly working smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire by 50 percent. Be sure to place smoke alarms one every level of your home, including outside bedrooms on the ceiling, at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs. Keep one near but not in the kitchen, and be sure to test and clean your smoke detectors every year. Remember to always test the detectors and replace the batteries twice every year.

Come Up With a Plan – It is imperative to come up with a fire plan and review it with your family frequently. Teach your family members to keep low to the floor, and practice escaping from each room with your family. Ensure that the windows in your home are not nailed or painted shut in case you need to use them if there’s a fire. Consider purchasing escape ladders if your home has more than one level as well. Keep a fire extinguisher in an easily-accessible place, and teach all of your family members how to use it.

Take Care of Electrical Cords – Too many electrical cords in one space can overload your circuits and cause a fire. Remember to never overload your wall outlets and to use fuses that are the right rate for your home’s circuits. Never plug in frayed electrical cords! Instead, spend a few extra dollars to buy a new cord.

Be Cautious of Flammable Items – Keep gasoline, benzene, and other flammable liquids outside and store them in approved containers in a well-ventilated storage areas. Never smoke near flammable liquids! When it comes to your chimney, be sure that it’s at least 3 feet higher than your room and that no branches are hanging above or around it. Keep the chimney clean and swept as well.

Be Smart With Home Heaters – Wintertime will soon be upon us, and it will soon be time to break out the space heaters to keep us nice and warm. When you have space heaters in your home, be sure to treat them with care. Keep them away from drapes, furniture, and other flammable objects. As tempting as it might be to fall asleep beside a warm space heater, be sure to turn it off before you go to sleep.

Keep the Kitchen Safe – The kitchen is a common place for fires to start. Prevent fires by keeping your stove clean and free of grease and keeping flammable items including shirt sleeves away from the burners. Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire, and never, ever leave cooking food unattended.

Be Smart in the Event of a Fire – Sometimes prevention is not enough to stop a fire. Check closed doors for heat before you open them by using the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the crack between the door and doorframe, and the doorknob before you open it; never use your palms or your fingers to check! If you cannot pass through the door, escape through a window. If that isn’t possible, hang a white or light-colored sheet or large cloth outside the window to notify fire fighters that you are trapped. If you can pass, crawl to the exit. If your clothes catch on fire, DO NOT run; instead, stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.

Be sure to protect your home as well. Home insurance can help protect you, your family, and your valuables in the event of a fire. If you’re in need of more information or a home insurance policy, call the best – Madison Mutual – at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com! We will go over all the information and determine which policy is the best for you and your family.