Safety tips for your home and belongings

At Univesta Insurance and Financial Services, we know how much of an inconvenience it can be to have an unforeseen event disrupt your life.  We also know that you want to do everything you can to protect your home and property from damage. That’s why we’ve compiled some helpful tips to avert potential problems.

Preventing Water Damage

Water damage is the leading cause of reported claims in Canada. Help protect your home and your property by being aware of the risks and the ways to prevent water damage.

Outdoors

  • Clear eaves troughs of leaves and debris at least once a year (late fall).
  • Make sure that the water run-off is far enough away from the foundation.
  • Make sure there is at least 200 mm (8 in.) clearance between finished ground level and the bottom of the downspout; otherwise consider installing window wells.
  • Inspect the foundation of your house and have any cracks repaired.
  • Make sure your asphalt roof shingles are not worn or curling.
  • Drain the pipe when you pack your garden hose away for the winter.

Indoors

  • On appliances or plumbing fixtures, replace plastic or rubber water supply lines with flexible steel braided hoses.
  • If you’re away for more than four consecutive days during the heating season, have someone check the heating system daily, or shut off the water and drain the pipes before you leave.
  • Properly insulate and ventilate your attic.
  • Consider connecting your plumbing and heating system to a 24-hour monitored alarm service.

In the basement

  • Do not cover floor drains.
  • Store items in plastic storage containers on raised shelving.
  • Check your basement for leaks after a heavy rainfall or quick thaw.

Get professional help to:

  • Install a sewer backup prevention valve on your home’s main line.
  • Create a sump pit and install a sump pump with reliable back-up power.
  • Make sure waste water pipes are not blocked by tree roots.
  • Disconnect downspouts draining directly into the sewer system and redirect them at least 6 feet away from your home’s foundation
  • Make sure your lot is graded to aid drainage away from your home, and
  • If you have a septic system, to have it serviced regularly.

Fire prevention

Prevention is the best weapon against fire.  Over-heated electrical circuits, smoke detectors with dead batteries, inadequate ventilation around electronic systems, pots and pans left unattended on top of the stove or in the oven – these are just some of the frequent causes of fires in homes.

  • Install a smoke detector on each floor of your home, especially near bedrooms.  Make it a habit to replace the batteries twice a year, in the spring and fall, when you set your clocks back and ahead, for example.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector, if you heat with gas, oil, wood or another combustible material.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy near sources of heat and appliances, including your outdoor barbecue.
  • On upper floors, make sure you have an exit that allows you to safely leave the premises.
  • Check that the light bulbs for each light fixture are the correct wattage.
  • Have your heating appliances and chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Never leave boxes, paper, paint cans or combustible material (especially paint) near heating appliances and hot water tanks.

Theft prevention

Whether you live in a house, condo or cottage, in town or in the country, you could still be the victim of a crime.  Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself, your home and your belongings.

  • Make sure your home looks lived in.  Make sure mail, newspapers and advertising material doesn’t accumulate on your doorstep while you’re away.  If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, ask someone to mow the lawn.
  • Trim the bushes around your home to make sure they don’t provide a hiding place for burglars.
  • Lock all windows and doors.  Check door and window locks and, if need be, replace them with more secure hardware. Keep doors and windows locked when you’re not inside, even if you’re just working around the house.  Make sure that your shed and garage are locked at all times to prevent theft.  Also secure all sliding glass doors, especially those on the ground level. Security experts recommend installing a safety bar between a sliding door and the door jamb.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you think you’ll be away for an extended period of time, have your lamps on timers to come on automatically during the evening and turn off during the day.  Even having a light on in a shed can keep intruders at bay.
  • Think about having an alarm system installed.
  • Watch out for frustrated thieves.  Also watch out for any individuals canvassing your neighbourhood who offer their services as a repairman or who try, in one way or another, to get inside your home.  Don’t step over the threshold if you open the door to strangers.  And don’t allow them to enter your home, even if they appear confused or pretend to be a friend of a neighbour.  Call 911 immediately if you see anyone acting suspiciously.
  • Be a good neighbour. Keep an eye open and call the police if you witness any unusual behaviour in the neighbourhood.  Remember also that thieves often prey on seniors, so keep an eye on elderly neighbours.
  • Never leave your car windows open, even on a hot day.  CDs, CD players and GPSs are easy to steal.  If you leave important papers in your glove compartment, like proof of insurance and your car registration, just remember that this personal information could be used by criminals and lead to identity theft.
  • Have your bicycle engraved to identify it and always lock it when you are not using it.  When it is stored in a shed or garage, secure it to a lawnmower or another heavy and unwieldy tool. That will make it more difficult to steal.

We’re standing by, ready to provide information and advice!

To find out more about this subject or to get more advice, call or e-mail us. We’ll get back to you within 2 hours during regular business hours.