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Fire prevention: Beware of potting soil!

Published on June 2, 2016

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When warmer weather arrives, many of us like to plant pretty flowers in pots or planters. But did you know that the potting soil generally used for that purpose contains peat moss, wood chips, polystyrene or vermiculite, all of which can ignite easily? Potting soil is responsible for a number of home insurance claims every summer. The L’Unique General Insurance team has put together a few safety tips to prevent your pots of pretty flowers from being a fire hazard.

Dry soil = danger!

The flammable materials added to potting soil helps retain moisture as much as possible. Nevertheless, potting soil can dry out, for a variety of reasons. That's when it becomes a hazard. If the dry soil comes in contact with a heat source, it can catch fire.

A few easy things you can do to reduce the risks

  • A flower pot is not an ashtray! If you're a smoker, never let ashes drop into a potted plant, and never put out your cigar or cigarette in a potted plant. Always use a deep, heavy ashtray that won't blow away. Spread the word to any guests you have who are smokers.
  • Plant your flowers in clay pots rather than plastic ones. Since clay pots are fire resistant, they can contain the danger better in the event of a potting soil fire.
  • Water your potted plants frequently or use an automatic watering system to keep the soil moist.
  • Keep any unused potting soil or planters containing potting soil well away from:
    • Heat sources (firepit, barbecue, candles, etc.)
    • Combustible materials (wood, paper, all types of fuel, cleaning products, aerosols, etc.).
  • Don't save any unused potting soil for next year. Since potting soil can quickly dry out and become highly flammable, you should use it or lose it. Only purchase the amount you need. Spread any excess over your lawn or toss it.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Feel free to contact him or her!

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