We’re nearing the end of the hot summer weather in California, but we are still in the midst of wildfire season. Given that the fires seem to start sooner, last longer and cause more damage each year, now is a great time for a reminder on some basic fire safety.
Smoke Alarms – Install smoke alarms if you don’t have them and check that those you do have are working. Make sure you have good batteries in the alarms and consider also getting carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas.
Gather dry brush and debris on your property – While it may just seem like an eyesore, dead, dried out leaves and brush around your home can be a fire risk. Clearing them out can make your space look nicer and reduce hazards.
Always be careful with flammables – There are so many easy ways to start an unintentional fire in your home. Unattended candles, hot plates, and even flammable materials, like a dishrag, too close to the stove. It is always good practice to carefully supervise any flame or heating elements when in use, and always be sure they are completely off or extinguished after use.
For many, the 4th of July is the ultimate summer celebration: hot weather, outdoor gatherings, grilled foods, and, of course, fireworks. Beautiful though they are, fireworks cause thousands of wildfires on an annual basis, leading to millions in property damage. With California in drought conditions and fire season worsening each year, we wanted to take a moment to address fireworks and safety for this holiday.
Consider skipping the fireworks altogether. Tempting though it is to use fireworks at your own celebration, they can be very dangerous. In a study published last year regarding fires in the U.S., the authors found that from 1992 to 2015, humans ignited more wildfires on July 4th than any other day of the year.
This year, many fire experts are urging people to just skip the pretty combustibles altogether. A small spark in the wrong place can be enough to turn into a full, raging fire. According to AccuWeather, 2020 saw record-breaking fires. In California alone, the 2020 wildfire season burned over 4.3 million acres, more than double the previous state record. This year, drought conditions are making many think that the 2021 wildfire season will be just as, if not more, dangerous.
Any fire in California right now could spell big trouble, but you should take extra care around your mobile home. Older mobile homes especially are vulnerable to fire, and can go from a small flame to fully engulfed in mere minutes.
What could you do instead of at-home fireworks? Maybe this is the year to stick to seeing fireworks shows at a local event manned by professionals. You could watch recordings of fireworks on TV. Or, maybe this can be the year that you use those pretty Christmas lights in the summer, since we never really want to take them down anyway. Just string up some pretty lights and use your imagination – it could be all the lovely light of fireworks without the noise and danger!
Whatever you choose to do, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!
With the return of deadly California wildfires, the devastating effects of fire have been on the forefront of many people’s minds. 2020 has already become the largest wildfire season in California’s recorded history, with over 4 million acres of land burned as of October 4th, and fires still raging. Given that fire is such a hot topic at the moment, let’s take some time to review some of the primary concerns specific to wildfires, broader fire concerns as they relate to living in a manufactured home, and some preparation and safety precautions you can take now and in the future.
Beyond the obvious safety issues of fires – physical danger, property damage, visibility concerns – fires also pose a public health risk. Particulate matter (tiny particles) in wildfire smoke can contain harmful substances, including those that cause cancer. Because the particles are so small, a fraction of the diameter of human hair, some can enter the lungs and even bloodstream. There is well-documented scientific evidence linking particulates to negative health effects for the heart and lung. Even brief periods of smoke exposure can put you at risk for future disease and aggravate existing conditions.
– Check air quality – Close doors and windows – Run AC on recirculate – Use a certified air filter – Avoid vacuuming, frying food, or using gas appliances, which add to indoor pollution – Wear a mask inside if needed
Fire and Manufactured Housing
An unfortunate fact about living in a manufactured home is that you may be at greater risk if you have a fire. In 1976, the Department of Housing and Urban Development established more restrictive standards for safety and construction. Homes manufactured before 1976 were not required to meet those guidelines and are more likely to have been built with more flammable materials and have fewer exits in the event of a fire. Thankfully, a 2007-2011 study by the National Fire Protection Association found that mobile homes built after 1976 had a rate of fire deaths 57% lower than those built before HUD’s standards.
A scary reality is that fire’s destructive power is incredibly fast. A small flame can morph into a raging fire in minutes, and the nature of manufactured homes may also put them at greater risk for structural damage faster than a site-built home. Fires have been known to fully engulf a mobile home in under 15 minutes. Knowing this, it is extremely important to be prepared in the event of a fire and practice fire safety in your day to day life.
Fire Safety and Preparation
Be Prepared to Evacuate
This is especially important with the current prevalence of wildfires, but knowing what to do before you have to evacuate due to fire can help save you time and help you keep calm. Understand that if you are advised to evacuate, you should do so immediately. Taking time after an evacuation order to pack up your most treasured belongings could cost you your life. Below are some steps you can take to prepare for the possibility of evacuation.
Regularly tune in to your local news and/or radio for the most up-to-date information about the fires near you.
Know your exits. Map out multiple escape routes before you need them. Check that you are able to easily open windows and remove screens. Practice your routes with your family.
Have a Go Kit ready. Prepare a disaster supply kit with necessities for you, other members of your household, and any pets. A helpful list of what to include in your kit can be found here.
Precautions to Take Now
Make sure you have fire insurance for your home. While it is an unpleasant thing to think about, there is always a possibility that you may lose your home and belongings to a fire. It is worth considering insuring your home against fire and for the full replacement value. Keep in mind that it will likely cost more than the original value of your home to replace it, plus the cost of new furniture, appliances, and other belongings.
Install smoke detectors. Have one on every level of your home. Test them monthly. Change the batteries yearly. Change the detectors every 10 years.
Purchase fire extinguishers. Get a fire extinguisher appropriate for your home, as there are different types for different kinds of fire. Learn how to use one properly from your local fire department.
General Safety and Fire Risk Reduction
Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords. Limit the number of appliances and devices plugged into outlets and surge protectors.
Periodically check electrical wiring. Look for exposed or fraying wires. Dark marks on electrical outlets could be an indicator of electrical issues.
Use items like space heaters and candles under supervision and for short periods of time. Be sure to keep them away from flammable items.
Maintain and keep heat sources clean. Dust accumulated on heat strips could ignite when you turn on the heat for the first time in the season.
On March 15, 2018 a mobile home was destroyed completely by fire in the City of Cypress, Orange County. The photos show the devastation. The man inside the home suffered burns. According to a March 15 Orange County Register report the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Officers escorted the subject away from the residence seconds before an explosion occurred.
When a fire like this happens the first questions or comment is, “We sure hope the owner of the home was insured.” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is frequently that the home owner is either uninsured or under insured.
Fires happen. It could be your home damaged by a fire in a neighbor’s home or a huge disaster like wild fires where embers land on your roof and there is no stopping the damage and devastation that follows.
The pictures of this disaster tell the story. Don’t be caught without insurance. It is recommended that you consult with a professional who specializes in insuring mobile and manufactured homes for your insurance coverage.
The key is to have the home insured for replacement value. If you have a loan on the home and it is completely destroyed by a fire, you still owe the loan amount, plus you need to now replace the home.
The insurance coverage needed will need to cover the removal of the old, destroyed home, the preparation of the lot for the placement of a new home, payment of the mortgage and the purchase of a replacement home. This could be a considerable sum, but far better to be insured for the total loss.
We are approaching a very joyous time of the year – whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or the New Year, it is a time to celebrate by gathering with family and friends. With many gatherings and parties, there’s usually a grand display of foods that someone has worked very hard to put together. Whether you are given the opportunity to host a party for the first time, or you have been doing it for many years, it helps to take a minute and review some safety tips.
According to Foremost Insurance and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), Thanksgiving and Christmas are known for cooking-related home fires. You can imagine millions of people cooking in the kitchen, many of them pressed for time and stressed out from wanting to make everything perfect. It’s more than likely that just a few carelessness or inattention in the kitchen will lead to big disasters. Although the following tips were written to advise people for holiday feasts, you can apply these same tips for whenever you are cooking in the kitchen:
Make sure that no flammable objects, such as kitchen towels, oven mitts, paper towels, hot pads, and food packaging, are away from your stove top. If you are rushing or not fully paying attention, it’s easy to forget about where you put these objects. It helps to clean off your kitchen counter as you cook so that you have space to put your kitchen tools and can keep track of where things are.
Stay in the kitchen at all times if you have something boiling, frying, grilling, or broiling. If you are an experienced cook at home, you probably think that you can leave the kitchen for a short period of time. But why risk having a tragic accident in your kitchen right before an important gathering? Always keep an eye on your stove, or turn it off if you need to leave the kitchen.
Always check on your foods that are simmering, baking, or roasting. Just because your pumpkin cheesecake recipe states to bake for one hour and to not open the oven door while it’s baking, you can still look into the oven every now and then to make sure that everything is going smoothly. If you are a forgetful cook, always use a timer, especially for dishes that calls for long hours of cooking.
Don’t use the stove if you are feeling sleepy or have consumed alcohol. It’s very easy to start cooking and fall asleep while you are waiting. Pass the torch to someone else who is alert and wide awake to do the cooking.
It’s very easy for anyone to be a victim to kitchen disasters, especially when you are busy entertaining guests or if you are preparing everything by yourself. Make sure you stay safe by reading the Foremost Insurance article as well as visiting the National Fire Protection Agency website.
According to a study done by AARP and Foremost Insurance Group, the leading cause of mobile home fires is insufficient maintenance of the home and its mechanical system. For example, your clothes dryer needs to be cleaned for lint after every use and the attached lint vent needs to be cleaned about twice a year. You can accidentally start a fire in your dryer if you don’t property clean and maintain appliances as instructed in the manual. This applies to other appliances and heating systems that you own, such as space heaters, woodstoves, water heaters, fireplaces, and furnaces, to name a few.
There are other careless accidents that cause many fires in mobile homes. It is important for everyone to be prepared for these types of situations. Regardless of the type of mobile home you reside in, do you have an exit plan? Do you have a smoke detector installed with sufficient battery to alert you? Do you have family, friends, or caretakers that you can call to assist you in the time of need? These are only a few questions you need to ask yourself so that you can be prepared in case of emergencies. Most people live thinking such disaster could never happen to them, but it never hurts to take some time to think about being prepared.
Make sure to read the full article by AARP and Foremost Insurance Group on Fire Prevention.