Focus on Fire Safety, Storm Preparedness This Spring
NASHVILLE – Ahead of daylight saving time beginning this Sunday (March 13, 2022), the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) remind residents that spring’s arrival is the perfect time to prepare their homes and families for any potential emergency that might arise in the months ahead.
“There’s no place more important for Tennesseans than their homes, and now is a great time to remember to take the steps necessary to protect not just the physical building but your belongings and your loved ones who live there as well. Consumers can add to their peace of mind by taking the simple steps of ensuring their home’s smoke alarms are working properly and that they have adequate homeowners or renters insurance in place for an unexpected emergency,” said TDCI Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “Consumers who have questions when it comes to fire safety or their insurance policies’ coverage should contact our team today.”
Spring Smoke Alarm Checkup
When setting clocks forward one hour to mark the beginning of daylight saving time on Sunday, March 13, 2022 at 2 a.m. (CDT), Tennesseans should use the opportunity to check the batteries of their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.
Most fire fatalities occur at night while victims are sleeping. The harmful smoke and toxic gases generated by a home fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, which reduces the likelihood of escaping a home fire. Working smoke alarms can alert sleeping residents thereby doubling the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time residents have to escape a house fire.
Since 2012, 328 people have been alerted by smoke alarms installed by local fire departments through the SFMO”s “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” smoke alarm program.
“If residents need smoke alarms in their homes, they should contact their local fire department today and ask if they participate in our ‘Get Alarmed, Tennessee!’ smoke alarm program,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley.
When it comes to smoke alarms, remember:
- Install working smoke alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area and have at least one alarm on every level of the home. Make sure everyone in the home can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
- To help ensure the safety of Tennesseans, consumers should replace the batteries in their home’s smoke alarms twice a year in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors unless they have smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries.
- Smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries are available and designed to last for the life of the alarm. If the alarm chirps on these units, the entire smoke alarm must be replaced right away.
- Remember to test alarms once a month using the alarm’s “test” button.
- In addition to working smoke alarms, residents should also devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated common meeting place far enough away from the home. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 9-1-1.
Spring Home Insurance Review
Spring can often mean the arrival of unexpected severe weather. This spring, consumers can prepare themselves in the event of an emergency by taking some easy-to-follow steps today.
“Volatile and potentially dangerous weather can occur anytime,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Insurance Bill Huddleston. “I remind consumers to evaluate their policies before severe weather occurs. Anyone who has questions about his or her policies should contact our team by phone at 1-800-342-4029, (615) 741-2218, or visit us online today.”
- Create a home inventory of your belongings before an emergency strikes. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free app available at the App Store and Google Play that allows consumers to make a safe, secure record of their home’s contents in the event they ever need to file an insurance claim after an emergency.
- Review insurance policies — whether they are homeowners, renters, flood, or health policies — to make sure that adequate coverage is in place should a disaster strike. It is important to note that traditional homeowners policies do not cover floods. The majority of Tennessee homeowners are not covered by flood insurance. Flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). To learn more about flood insurance or locate a provider, contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 1-800-427-4661.
- Be prepared in the event of an emergency by creating an emergency kit. Make sure your kit includes bottled water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription medications, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and a small amount of cash.
- Prepare an evacuation plan and choose two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency (like a fire) and one outside your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home.
To learn more fire safety tips or have a question about your insurance policy, visit tn.gov/commerce today.