Home fire hazards

Moving into your first apartment is an exciting, hectic and sometimes surreal experience. You're thrilled to have the freedom to come and go as you please, but you also feel the weight of the responsibility. As the man or woman of the house, it's your job to keep it safe and secure. As you unload boxes and pull out your favorite posters and knick-knacks, keep your responsibilities in mind, particularly in regard to avoiding fires.

Combustible materials
You may not have thought about it when you bought them, but many decorations are flammable. Posters, paintings, tapestries, curtains, rugs, lamp shades and more can all catch fire. You shouldn't not decorate your home, but notice the amount of combustible materials you own - the more you have in an area, the faster a fire could spread. Consider limiting the amount of fabric- and paper-based decorations.

The plug-in situation
Many decorations need to be plugged in along with your electronics. However, don't risk overloading an outlet or your electrical system. The leg lamp isn't worth blowing a fuse - or worse, causing a fire. Use surge-protector power strips, but never plug one power strip in to another. Additionally, only use one power strip per outlet.

Candle alternatives
Everyone loves the smell and flickering light of candles. However, even a small flame in a home increases the chance of a fire. If you use candles, never leave them unattended and keep them a few feet away from other decorations or items. Make sure all candles are in a well-ventilated area as well.

Additionally, consider buying fake LED candles. When they are inside holders and decorations, no one will know the difference. You can even buy flameless scented candles that provide the unique look, feel and smell of the real thing. If you're mostly interested in the scent of candles, invest in an attractive automatic air freshener.

Additional safety considerations
When decorating your apartment, also check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It's important for everyone's safety that these function. If they don't work when you move in, change the batteries, and if they still don't work, contact your landlord right away to replace them.

Most likely you'll hit the store for new decorations, so while you're out running errands purchase a fire extinguisher. Having a small fire extinguisher on hand is essential because it will help you keep small accidents from becoming major incidents.

Before you've finished putting out throw pillows, look for the best deal on renters insurance with CoverHound. Fires don't care how hard you've worked to decorate your first place - they'll destroy everything. Protect yourself by getting a renters insurance policy that will cover damage from fires, theft and other risks.

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