Many homeowners overlook key safety measures when performing property upkeep, focusing too heavily on sprucing up the kitchen and overall design of their home and not enough on securing the structure against damage, according to a new survey of 1,000 people conducted by Porch.com. Thirty-one percent of homeowners say they don’t own a fire extinguisher, for example, and nearly 8 percent say that though they have one, they don’t know where it is, the survey shows. Further, 34 percent say they don’t own any of the recommended items for a home emergency kit—and more than a quarter of millennial homeowners admit to never having swapped out the batteries in their smoke alarms.
The dangers of not taking such precautions are overwhelming. In 2016, about 352,000 homes caught fire across the country, resulting in more than $5.7 billion in damages and more than 2,700 deaths. “Replacing the batteries in your smoke detector or making sure you own—and can locate—a fire extinguisher isn’t glamorous, but they could make all the difference should disaster strike,” Porch.com researchers note. The website says the following home upkeep measures are vital to keep homeowners safe:
- Change smoke detector batteries on a regular basis.
- Own a fire extinguisher.
- Clean the filter on the clothes dryer vent regularly.
- Have an emergency home kit (including first-aid kit, flash light, extra batteries, water, and more).
Failing to clean the dryer filter poses a particular fire hazard, as more than 14,000 home fires annually start in the laundry room. Many of those are attributed to an overabundance of dryer lint, according to Porch.com. Another safety tip for homeowners: have an emergency kit at home, as recommended by Ready.gov. Porch.com highlights the key components of such a kit, and their survey shows how many homeowners fail to have every item listed.