The Benefits of Smoke Alarms

Here we look at the benefits of fitting appropriate and operational smoke alarms in your home and securing your property against theft.

The importance of operational smoke alarms

In March 2009, an independent report entitled Evaluation of the Home Fire Risk Check and Fire Prevention Grant Programmes showed that home fire safety checks, which included the installation of more than 2.4 million smoke alarms, had reduced the number of people injured in fires in the home by 888 and reduced the number of incidents of home fires by 13,670. Perhaps most crucially, the report estimates that 53 lives have been saved.

However, not only has the installation of smoke alarms helped to save lives and reduce injuries, it has also produced a number of economic benefits reducing loss of buildings and disruption to normal lives is estimated to have saved between GBP 926 million and GBP 1,943 million according to the report.

There are benefits on a smaller scale too, for the individual home owner. Home insurance companies base their premiums on risk i.e. the more likely you are to make a claim, the higher your premiums will be. Therefore taking steps to reduce the risk of a claim may be rewarded with policy discounts.

Fitting smoke alarms in your home to prevent fires getting out of hand is one such step other options include fitting fire extinguishers and even quitting smoking, as non-smokers typically receive cheaper premiums than smokers on a like-for-like basis.

Crucially however, itís important to check your smoke alarms are fully operational on a regular basis failure to do so could result in a home insurance claim being invalidated should a fire hit your property. So make sure you test your smoke alarm at least once a month by pressing the test button on the detector and ensuring that the alarm rings or buzzes loudly. Avoid lighting candles immediately under the smoke alarms to test it, as repeated use of the detector in this way could cause it to fail when a fire really strikes.

As a rule of thumb, change the batteries in your smoke alarms when you move your clocks forward and backward each year (or more often as required) to ensure they are working correctly. If the smoke detector beeps at random then itís probably time to replace the batteries.

How to keep your home secure

Crime figures issued by the Conservative Party in January 2010 showed that a householder is attacked violently by a burglar once every 30 seconds. So taking steps to limit the risk of a break-in could potentially be a life-saving step as well as the obvious benefit of protecting your contents.
Whatís more, many home insurance providers offer discounts if you install suitable security devices in your home consult your insurer about which systems it recommends to make the most of the savings available. Here are some tips:

-Security devices: A home with a burglar alarm in place could deter a burglar from even attempting to break in. Insurance providers will usually have systems that they recommend, but as a general rule look for devices that meet British Standard BS 4737 or European Standard EN 50131-1. Itís also worth investing in good security lighting outside your home and even CCTV cameras if you can afford them. Time-switch lights are also useful to give the impression that you are at home even when youíre not.

-Secure windows: Leaving a window open only for a burglar to break in would normally invalidate a home insurance claim as most providers would consider this negligence on the part of the home owner. However, you could be rewarded for keeping your windows secure invest in key-operated window locks for all downstairs windows, as well as those that are accessible at higher levels of the property. Remember to store keys in a safe place and donít overlook small windows such as skylights which should also be fitted with locks.

-Secure doors: When replacing a door, invest in one that is certified to British Standard PAS 24-1 and ask for it to be fitted with a chain or bar and a door viewer rather than glass. If there are glass panels around the door, then consider replacing the standard glass with laminated glass to offer more security. Keep your doors locked at all times and consider five-lever mortise locks which are usually recommended by insurance companies.

-Outdoors: Donít overlook your garden and its contents, as well as outbuildings. If possible, have your alarm upgraded to incorporate your shed and garage and also invest in strong locks such as a closed shackle padlocks for outbuildings. Remember to store garden items out of sight at night and try to keep intruders out with high fences, prickly hedges and gravel pathways which make a loud noise when walked on.

How to get the best deal on home insurance

Once you have taken steps to secure your property you should be in a good position to find a competitive home insurance deal so use a comparison website to compare the policies available. The leading websites can compare quotes from as many as 65 home insurance companies.