Each October, the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire by promoting fire safety information and education to families across the nation. A fire in your home can be at best a nuisance and at worst a very tragic event. According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 369,500 home structure fires in 2013, and those fires caused $7.0 billion in damages.

Fires can cause serious injury and damages, even if they are contained. This Fire Prevention Week, ensure your family and your home are protected by brushing up on your fire safety knowledge and making sure your home has safety measures in place to protect you and your family:

Check on your fire alarms. Just as the name of this year’s Fire Prevention Week states, “every bedroom needs a fire alarm!” In order to make sure you “hear the beep where you sleep,” ensure that fire alarms are installed inside each bedroom as well as outside each bedroom, and on every floor in your home. Larger homes will require more fire alarms.

Having fire alarms in the appropriate places is great, but what if they don’t work?  Testing your fire alarms regularly is essential in keeping your family safe in the event of a fire. The NFPA recommends testing them each month, and don’t forget the old trick – check the batteries on Daylight Savings (coming up next on November 1).

Make sure you and your family members know two ways out of each room in the house. If there is a fire in your home, the most important thing you can do is get out safe and help others get out safe as well. Creating and practicing an escape plan from the rooms you use most in your home will help your family know what to do and where to go in the case of an emergency.

For each room in your home, find two unique exits, which may include using a window. As you identify your escape routes, make sure that each one is accessible and clear at all times. If you find something that needs to be fixed, whether it is a window that won’t open all the way or a broken step leading out of the basement, don’t delay – it could save a life.

Be diligent. Unfortunately human error can lead to fires, and one major source of fires is cooking. When using the kitchen, take care to never leave your cooking unattended and dispose of cooking waste properly. If you have children at home, emphasize the importance of fire safety when cooking.

Other common causes of home fires are heating equipment and candles. These items should also never be left unattended and should be kept away from flammable items like blankets and mattresses. Being diligent around heat sources can help lower the risk of fire.

Consider installing a sprinkler system. There has never been a multiple loss of life during a fire in a building with a working sprinkler system, according to ABCO. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, consider this: installing a sprinkler system in your home may lower your homeowners insurance premium. Call to speak with your agent to see if your rates could go down after installing a sprinkler system.

Ensure you have enough insurance coverage. The $7 billion in direct damage caused by fires in 2013 is no small figure! If there is a fire in your home, you’ll be on the hook for the damages, which can include smoke, water and burn damage. Even small fires can cause damage to your personal property and the structure of your home. Your insurance agent can help you determine if you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.

Sources: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week