National Fire Prevention Week (October 8 – 14, 2017) serves as a reminder that there’s never a bad time to review fire safety tips with your family and make sure that you are practicing fire prevention in your home. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, an estimated 365,500 homes alone were damaged in 2015 in the United States. Taking the steps to keep your home and family safe is key to preventing potential fire situations before they ever start.
The National Fire Protection Association lists cooking as the number one cause of home fires. It’s important to not leave your cooking area unattended. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, or food packaging. Another prevention technique is to always cook with a lid beside the pan so if the pan catches on fire, you can quickly slide the lid over the pan to contain and stifle the flame.
Nearly half of all home heating fires typically occur in December, January and February. It is important to have a regular maintenance plan that supports annual inspections and tune-ups to keep heating systems and furnaces in peak operating condition. Also, ensure that the area around the furnace is free from obstructions and flammable items, and change the furnace filter regularly. Space heaters are a risk as well, so be sure to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from them and remember to turn them off when leaving the room or going to bed.
Frayed power cords, overloaded electrical outlets, and faulty wiring are just a few of the common causes of electrical fires in a home. Take the time to check cords and outlets around your home on a consistent basis. You should also consider calling a professional electrician to come in and inspect your electrical panel. Experts can check for corrosion or burn/hot spots, tighten wires to the breakers and test the breakers if necessary. In addition, they are aware of certain makes of panels that have known issues and can help identify these panels and provide safe, affordable upgrades. Laundry dryers are also culprits for starting fires. Always clean lint filters every time the dryer is used, and clean the dryer ductwork annually.
Have a Plan in Place
Practicing fire safety at home involves understanding prevention, making a plan, and taking action. Take the opportunity to get everyone in your household involved in being better prepared to avoid and react to fires. Have multiple escape plans ready, and do fire routine drills to stay sharp on the planned routes to safety. If you have a fire extinguisher at home, make sure that you are familiar with how to use it. You will need to do some regular maintenance with your extinguisher such as checking the pressure gauges to see if the pressure is too high or too low. You will also want to check the working parts such as the can, hoses, and nozzle aren’t damaged, dented, or rusted.