Fire Safety Around Your House
Get every family member in on the plan
Once your home is on fire, you have less than four minutes before toxic smoke robs you of consciousness. Do you have a plan to escape?
Every years in the US, more than 4000 people die in fires. Many of those fires were preventable. The following fire prevention tips could help save your family and home.
Smoke and CO2 alarms
Every home should have at least one tested, functional smoke detector. Often they go off for no reason and can be very annoying. Learn how yours works and how to turn it off quickly for a false alarm.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms outside each bedroom and near fireplaces and woodstoves.
- Test smoke and CO2 alarms every month and change batteries twice a year. Make it part of your spring and fall chores.
- Never disconnect your smoke detector.
- Replace your smoke detector every 10 years.
Sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers
Sometimes a small fire starts and can be contained with minimal damage if you are prepared.
- Install a sprinkler system, if possible. They are very effective and substantially reduce loss of life and property.
- Place UL-rated fire extinguishers in the kitchen and strategically in several other locations in the house as well as in the garage and car.
- Train family members on how, when, and where to use fire extinguishers as well as what to do if their clothing or hair catches fire.
Fireplaces, woodstoves, and chimneys
A dirty chimney is the culprit in many a household fire.
- Clean chimneys and woodstoves every year.
- Burn only dry wood in small, hot fires to prevent creosote build up.
Electrical appliances and equipment
Frayed cords, old appliances, and overloaded circuits can spell trouble.
- Check your dryer ducting and vents. Thousands of dryer-related fires occur every year.
- Keep combustibles away from halogen lights.
- Read manuals and observe limitations of electrical and lighting appliances and equipment (e.g., don't use higher wattage bulbs than recommended).
- Never overload electrical outlets or circuits.
- Don't cover cords with carpets or rugs.
- Repair and replace appliances with damaged cords.
- If an appliance has a funny, acrid smell or makes a hissing sound, the circuitry or wiring could be at fault. Unplug it immediately and have it repaired by a professional.
- Unplug any appliance that is not in use. Not only is it safer, it draws less energy and can reduce your electric bill.
- Portable heaters should be used only when you are awake to attend to them. Turn them off before you go to sleep.
Kitchens, with their various electrical elements, are a common source of home fires.
- Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended. Many of us have put a roast into the oven and made a quick grocery run for a missing ingredient. Fire experts tend to frown on this.
- Keep the stove top clear and clean.
- Keep a tested fire extinguisher near by.
Other fire hazards
- Don't smoke in bed.
- Never leave candles or oil lamps unattended.
- Keep attractive nuisances like matches and lighters away from small children.
- If you live in a state where fireworks are permitted, make sure your children use them only under adult supervision.
Don't forget outdoor fire safety
Nothing says summer in the Western US more than wildfire season. The following tips are good practices anywhere.
- Keep plant materials away from the house. Dry vegetation and leaves should be raked up, composed, or disposed of.
- Clean roof and gutters.
- Trim trees and shrubs so they do not over hang your home.
- Store wood at least 50 feet away from your home.
- Store gasoline at a safe distance in an appropriate container; never inside your home.
- When remodeling, use fire resistant materials.
- Create a green zone with fire-resistant trees and shrubs.
- Observe all local burning regulations.
Fire escape plan
Your family is more likely to survive a fire if you prepare in advance. Planning an escape can make all the difference.
- Leave first, call second. Don't waste precious seconds calling for help. Get out first.
- Practice escaping from each room in the house.
- Use a "what if" approach to ask your children what they would do, then instruct them in the appropriate procedures.
- Install storm windows and screens so they can be released from the inside.
- Keep an escape ladder near a window if your home has upper floors.
- Decide where you will meet after escaping.
- Help emergency services find your house. Make sure house numbers are visible and easily readable from the street.
- Train each family member to call 9-1-1 and that they know the address cold.
To ensure your family's safety, cleaning the chimney can prevent fires. To find a qualified professional in your area, contact Next Step Remodeling Small Repairs