Did You Know...? Insurance Risk Management Tips #2: Alarms, Sewers, Heaters

FirstService Residential
June 23, 2016

Living in a strata corporation allows for many benefits, and also presents special considerations. Insurance-related property damage and liability exposures can have serious consequences if a strata lot owner is unprepared. In this two-part insurance series, we explore common exposures and ways to prevent and mitigate damage.

In part 1 of this strata insurance series, we looked at water-related damage. Part 2 will focus on management tips for smoke alarms, sewers and space heaters.

Smoke Alarms

Did you know… that 60 per cent of fire related fatalities occur in homes without smoke alarms or in homes with smoke alarms that don’t properly function? Smoke alarms can help save lives. When a fire occurs, smoke spreads quickly, silently, and without warning. Typically caused by the inhalation of smoke and toxic fumes, these can be prevented by properly installing and regularly testing approved smoke alarms. Here are a few tips:

  • Alarms that combine photoelectric and ionization technology are recommended, and carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended if your home has a natural gas stove or other gas source.
  • Clean and vacuum your smoke alarm regularly to prevent false alarms and assure proper functionality; change batteries as needed.
  • Strobe lights and pillow shaking accessories are available for individuals with hearing impairments.
  • Alarms should be placed on all levels of your home, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Interconnected alarms that all sound in unison when one alarm is triggered provide the best protection.
  • Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and replaced every 10 years. Your Strata Corporation will also complete an annual testing of all smoke alarms.

Sewer Line Clogs

Did you know… that flushing foreign objects down toilets can cause major backups and losses by preventing the passage of material through the piping system? The following are common items that are flushed down toilets that shouldn’t be:

  • disposable cleaning cloths;
  • wash cloths;
  • diapers;
  • kitty litter;
  • food;
  • hair; and
  • trash.

If a foreign object was flushed down your toilet, you can trying snaking it from the drain, but be careful not to push the object further along. If snaking doesn’t work, it is advised that you contact a plumber. It is better to spend money to unclog the toilet instead of paying for the repairs of an entire plumbing system that has backed up! Remember, the larger your building, the more extensive the plumbing system and the more extensive potential damages can be.

Electric Space Heaters

Did you know… that electric space heaters are involved in thousands of residential fires each year? As such, nearly 32 per cent of all home heating fires, and 79 per cent of all fatal home heating fires, are caused by portable electric space heaters (source: National Fire Protection Agency).

  • Purchase a heater that automatically shuts off if tipped over.
  • Read all manufacturer’s instruction for use and care.
  • Place the heater on a solid and level surface.
  • Regularly inspect for cracked or damaged plugs or connections.
  • Never use an extension cord or power strip; plug directly into an outlet.
  • Keep heaters at least three feet away from anything that is flammable.
  • Clean the heater to prevent dust build-up.

Finally, unit owners should maintain unit owner’s coverage. Insurance will protect you, your contents, improvements and betterments to your unit, and damages to neighbouring units. It is estimated that only 50 per cent of owners across Metro Vancouver carry unit owners insurance.

As we can see, unit owners have unique insurance exposures due to the nature of strata living. Any experience of loss can be stressful to those parties involved. To lessen the financial impact and protect owners as much as possible, adequate loss prevention and insurance should be a part of every unit owner’s strategy.

DISCLAIMER: All information provided by FS Insurance Brokers is advisory in nature. Any such information may not identify or contemplate all unsafe conditions; others may exist. FS Insurance Brokers does not imply, guarantee or warrant the safety of any of the client’s properties or operations or that the client or any such properties or operations are in compliance with all federal, provincial, or local laws, codes, statutes, ordinances, standards or recommendations. All decisions in connection with the implementation, if any, of any of FS Insurance Brokers’ advice or recommendations shall be the sole responsibility of, and made by, the client or other recipient of the information.

FirstService Residential
FirstService Residential in British Columbia is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, a global leader in the rapidly growing real estate services sector, one of the largest markets in the world. As the leading property management company in North America, FirstService Residential oversees more than 6,500 residential and commercial associations including 1.5 million residential units and over 50 million square feet of commercial space across three provinces in Canada and 21 U.S. states. The company has more than 12,000 employees driving local market expertise and manages in excess of $6 billion in annual budgets.