Is your family taking the right precautions to prevent a house fire? House fires are most common in the coldest parts of winter as heating systems struggle to keep up with the cold. Few things can be as devasting as a house fire, so it pays to take steps now to try and prevent a fire from starting.

Below are some tips you can follow to minimize the risk of a fire breaking out in your home, and they will help keep you safe and alert in case one does:

#1 Install Smoke Detectors on Every Level – Smoke detectors are your last line of defense in a house fire. You should test your smoke detectors every month and replace the batteries twice a year. To test, press the button on the smoke detector and the alarm should go off. If there is no button, it’s outdated and needs to be replaced.

#2 Don’t Overload Electrical Sockets – One of the more common sources of house fires is overloaded electrical sockets, especially when you start adding power bars.

#3 Create a Fire Escape Plan – Make sure everyone in your home knows how to get out in case of a fire. Everyone should know at least two ways to get out of every room in case the fire blocks their path.

#4 Store Combustibles Separately – Find a dedicated closet, potentially in the garage or even a shed separated from your house, to store combustible materials and dangerous tools. Make sure the closet or shed has a smoke alarm and that the materials are locked away from children.

#5 Teach Your Kids About 9-1-1 – Most schools teach fire safety and the importance of knowing when to call 9-1-1, but as a parent, it never hurts to be careful. Make sure your children know to call 9-1-1 in the event of a fire.

#6 Practice Safe Smoking Habits – Smoking in the bedroom continues to be one of the most common causes of house fires, and even though more and more smokers are making the responsible choice to smoke outside (especially if they have kids) you still need a dedicated ash tray. Never toss lit cigarettes off an apartment balcony, and never trust a planter or potting soil to extinguish a lit cigarette.

In the event that your home has already had a fire, you need to focus on your home insurance claim. Once you’ve provided the insurance company with details about your lost personal property, the nature and extent of the structural damage to your home, and any additional living expenses caused by your displacement, they will give you an offer to settle the claim.

You may able to improve the value of that offer by working with a home insurance lawyer from the beginning. Law firms such as Virani Law combine legal knowledge with a knowledge of the home insurance claims process to make sure your family gets a fair offer.

A lawyer can help you understand your home insurance policy and what you deserve from the insurance company. They will explain structure and dwelling coverage, personal contents coverage, and additional living coverage in terms that help you understand what you deserve. If the amount offered to you by the insurance company seems insufficient, click here to learn more about how you can improve the value of your claim.

Your home insurance is meant to help you rebuild after the tragedy of a fire. Ensure that your family isn’t paying out of pocket for those expenses you contracted to have covered by calling a lawyer who practices home insurance law and can help you get a fair offer from the insurance company.