Small fixes around the home can have a big impact on security | Smart Switch: Personal Finance

Liz Weston, CFP®

If it’s not broken, maybe you should fix it anyway.

That’s the message consumer advocates and insurance experts want you to hear about hidden dangers in your home. Too often, they say, people put off relatively inexpensive repairs or upgrades that could prevent significant damage, injury or even death. While you can’t eliminate every potential hazard, a few small moves can have a big impact on home security.

The following solutions typically cost $200 or less.

Reduce your fire risks

Fires cause thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage in the US each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating fire-related losses. Climate change has also increased the risk of wildfires in many places.

Specially in wildfire prone areasYou can reduce the chances of a stray ember igniting your home by installing protective screening over vents and other openings, says Amy Bach, executive director of the insurance consumer advocacy group United Policyholders. She clears gutters and the area under decks of dead leaves and other combustible materials and creates “defensible space” by moving yard and other flammable objects a minimum of 5 feet from your foundation. If you have a fence that is attached to your house, the last 5 feet should be metal rather than wood, recommends Bach.

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