Thursday, 29 December 2016

5 tips for preventing holiday house fires

(NC) On average, a Canadian home burns every 55 seconds. Risk of fire is especially heightened during the holiday season, when cooking and the use of electrical equipment are at their peak.
Stay safe throughout the holidays and always by incorporating these key safety tips:
1. Preparation is key. Make sure your home is equipped with fire-detecting devices and alarms, as they'll alert you of a fire in time to get to safety and help prevent devastating damage. Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors and has a fire extinguisher.
2. Sufficient coverage. Check your insurance coverage to ensure you have adequate coverage for your home and belongings. Consult your insurance provider to make sure you have the home coverage you require. belairdirect's new home quick quote can provide you with a home quote in a matter of minutes.
3. Kitchen safety. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and it's easy to get distracted in the kitchen when entertaining. Fifty per cent of kitchen fires result from grease or oil, causing the fastest-spreading and most destructive type of fire. Never leave the kitchen when cooking, but if you absolutely need to leave the room, carry a kitchen spoon that will serve as a reminder that you're in the midst of preparing a meal.
4. Heating appliances. It's tempting to use heating appliances when the temperature drops. If you do pull out that space heater, make sure it's certified by a recognized testing agency and follow the manufacturer's recommendations on keeping it away from objects that may be combustible.
5. Power strips. Between decorations and adding extra lighting for your party, you might have to use your electrical outlets at full capacity. Be sure to avoid overloading outlets and covering them with fabric or rugs.
Find more information online at

How to create a cozy finished basement

(NC) A warm, comfortable finished basement is a great feature that adds value to your home. But too few owners realize that finishing a basement the wrong way can bring mould, mildew and lower indoor air quality.
Building a healthy finished basement comes down to these five elements:
1. Only finish a reliably dry basement. Even a small amount of leaked water can trigger mould, mustiness and poor indoor air quality. That's why your basement needs to prove itself reliably dry before you invest time and money into finishing. Monitor the space and make sure it's dry for at least a year.
2. Use moisture-resistant inorganic materials. Even a dry basement might get unexpectedly damp. So use inorganic materials that won't feed mould even in the presence of moisture. Foam-based insulation is best at reducing mould risk in basements. Avoid putting wood in contact with concrete.
3. Install a subfloor. Proper basement subfloors make finished floors warmer and reduce the chance that humid summertime air will condense against cool concrete. Choose inorganic subfloor products to put against the basement floor.
4. Spray foam the rim joists. Although it's common to insulate the area where joists meet outside walls using fibre-based insulation and a vapour barrier, it's difficult to get a proper air seal around all those joists. The resulting air leakage is why many homes have some kind of mould in the rim joist area. Spray foam eliminates this problem because it's self-sealing when applied at least three inches thick. You'll need a professional installer to do this work.
5. Install a proper heating system. Just because you have a furnace in your basement doesn't mean it will automatically heat the space. You need sufficient ducts to deliver heat to all areas as well as cold air return ducts at floor level to promote air circulation.
If you're planning to hire a contractor, make sure they're experienced, knowledgeable and professional. The Canadian Home Builder's Association is a great source of free advice for hiring a pro and avoiding suspicious contractors. Find more information at

Sunday, 4 December 2016

7 safety tips to protect your family from carbon monoxide

(NC) Fire departments and safety experts are stressing the importance of Ontario's recent law mandating the installation of carbon monoxide alarms. An alarm is now required in homes of any age that have an attached garage or a furnace, fireplace, appliance or other device that burns natural gas, oil, wood, propane, or other fossil fuel.
Protect your loved ones with these safety tips recommended by Kidde, the leading manufacturer of carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in Canada.
1. Always have a licensed technician check all heating systems and other fuel-fired devices annually. Include flues and ductwork ( if they're cracked or obstructed, lethal CO gas could seep back into your home.
2. Carbon monoxide gas is about the same weight as air. So plug-in, battery powered or combination smoke/CO alarms can be safely installed at any height. The average cost is between $25 and $60 depending on features.
3. The law says CO alarms must be installed outside every sleeping area to increase the likelihood that people asleep will wake up if it goes off.
4. Research shows that homeowners favour CO alarms that have a continuous digital display. The display shows any concentration of the gas, even if it's below the level that causes the alarm to sound. This allows homeowners to address a small problem before it gets worse.
5. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, but without the fever. Nausea, headaches, and lethargy can turn into confusion, collapse, and even death with lack of fresh air.
6. The newest generation of CO alarms from Kidde are called “worry-free” because they have a sealed lithium battery that lasts 10 years, as either the primary power source or as backup in case of a power outage. They never need to be replaced for the life of the alarm.
7. Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and combination smoke/CO alarms do not last forever. Whether hardwired, battery powered or plug-in, replace any CO alarm manufactured prior to 2009.

Everything you need to know about tenant insurance

(NC) There are two kinds of renters in Canada – those who have tenants insurance and those who don't. According to a recent study conducted by Substance Strategies, more than half (53 per cent) of tenants in Canada are the kind that go uninsured. So what is causing this risk-taking phenomenon? It seems to be a lack of awareness. Below are the top four important things you need to know on this topic:
1. Your landlord doesn't cover all risks and damages. The landlord has insurance on what they own — the building itself and nothing more. You are responsible for your own property and the contents of your apartment. If an unfortunate mishap occurs and you don't have tenant insurance, your landlord's policy won't cover your 60” television, and you'll end up having to watch your favourite show on your smartphone.
2. Liability is key. As a tenant, you're most likely going to be financially responsible for any damage you cause, even if it's accidental. The extent of civil liability is an important factor when considering what you are responsible for and if you are able to cover it out of pocket.
3. Your stuff is worth more than you think. What's interesting about insurance is that your belongings are not insured based on sales cost, but on the replacement cost which factors in the retail value at the time of loss including possible inflation. So that television you bought on sale for $400 dollars reduced from $800 would be insured for the full $800 dollars. With that in mind, is there more in your house that you can't afford to lose?
4. Tenant insurance is surprisingly affordable. Forty per cent of Canadians believe they don't have the means to pay for tenant insurance, but based on current minimum premiums, tenant insurance can cost less than a restaurant meal each month. If you can skip the extra coffee each day, then you've saved up enough money to afford tenant insurance.
Armed with this new knowledge about tenant insurance, you may want to consider getting a quick and simple quote from an insurance provider like belairdirect. Don't be the 53 per cent that go uninsured!

Protect your roof this winter with these tips

(NC) Winter can be tough on many parts of a home — our windows, porches, and driveways take quite a beating with all the snow and ice. But did you know that your roof is one of the most vulnerable areas?
No matter what material your roof is made of, snow and ice can cause severe and expensive damage. If left untended, the result could be water damage that trickles inside.
“Canadians are always clearing their driveways or scraping their windshields after the snow or ice, but the roof is out of sight so it can get overlooked,” explains Glenn Cooper from Aviva Canada. “By taking steps to check and care for your roof during the season you can help avoid a leakage and extend the life of your roof at the same time.”
Try these four tips to protect your roof this season:
1. Hire a professional snow removal company. If your roof is particularly high, it's much safer to hire a professional snow removal service to clear the snow off.
2. Use binoculars. You can check the condition of your roof by using binoculars; in most cases, you can see everything you need without having to climb up there.
3. Rake it up. Use a rake to force built-up snow onto the ground.
4. Do warm weather installations. Consider installing electric radiant heat in the warmer months to keep your roof temperature above freezing during the cold of winter. You can also install an ice barrier, used mostly on metal roofs, to prevent snow from sticking.

Give your home new life with these tips

            Give your home new life with these tips (NC) As the change in weather has us retreating indoors, take some time to spruc...