How to Avoid Fires In Your Home

 

There are so many terrifying statistics surrounding house fires, hundreds of people die every year in fires that start in their homes and millions of dollars in property loss in the winter months alone. Don't be a statistic, make fire safety something you practice daily.  

Fires kill nearly 30,000 people each year in the U.S., 40% of those deaths because of the lack of working smoke alarms. Most deaths that occur during a house fire are actually from smoke inhalation, not the actual fire itself. A proper working smoke alarm can alert you sooner and get you out of the house safe.

Make sure to change the batteries on your smoke alarms each time you change your clock for daylight savings time. If your alarm is over ten years old, or your not sure when you last replaced it, you should get a new one. Smoke alarms have a ten year life span.  

When installing your smoke alarms, be sure you have them on every floor of your home so that no matter where the fire starts, you will get the earliest possible warning and the best chance to get out of the home. 

Escape routes and fire drills are a very important part of everyday life, ones you will want to practice with your family weekly. Mock fire drills with your children, warning them of such things as hot doorknobs and staying low to the ground to avoid breathing in the smoke could save their lives. Material items can be replaced, your family can not!

Here are some good tips about fire drills:

  • Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.
  • Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies and pets.
  • Purchase a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.
  • Make sure that your family meet spot is away from your house for example, the mailbox, neighbor's house, a treeline a good distance from your home. 

Fireplaces:

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year by a professional
  • Leave the Glass doors open while there is a fire burning. When you leave the doors open it ensures that the fire gets enough air to keep creosote from building up in the chimney. Creosote build up will block your chimney causing a chimney fire. 
  • Use a Metal screen with fireplaces that don't have a glass door.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of flammable items
  • Never use flammable liquids such as lighter fluid to start your fire.
  • Only use dry wood, soft, moist wood speeds up creosote buildup in your chimney
  • Allow hot ashes cooling time before you dispose of them
  • Never leave a fire in your fireplace unattended and always put the fire out before you go to bed or leave your home

Space Heaters:

  • Always place any portable heating devise at least three feet away from flammable objects
  • Never leave your home or go to bed without turning off your space heater
  • Never dry wet clothes over a space heater
  • Check the cord and outlet periodically, if it feels hot, turn it off.

Liquid/Gas Burning Heaters:

  • Always vent to the outside to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning
  • Follow Manufacturers' instructions very closely
  • Always allow the heaters to cool down before you refuel them
  • Never refill these heaters inside your home

Wood Stoves:

  • Make sure your stove is installed properly and maintained regularly
  • Proper ventilation is a must
  • Keep flammable objects away from your stove, and stove pipes
  • Check all of your connections every year before you use your stove
  • Have your chimney inspected by a professional every year

Holiday Fires:

Christmas trees

  • If you are using an artificial tree, make sure that it is flame retardant
  • If you are using a real tree make sure it is freshly cut
  • Don't put your live tree up too early, and never leave it up for longer than two weeks. 
  • Keep your tree watered at all times 
  • Don't put your tree to close to a heat vent or a fireplace

Christmas lights and Decorations

  • Maintenance is key! Inspect your lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, and broken or cracked sockets before you put them up!
  • Don't overload electrical outlets
  • Do not link more than three light strands
  • Connect strings of lights to am extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Check the wires periodically, if they are warm to the touch, take them down. 
  • Do not leave lights unattended. 
  • Use only non-flammable decorations
  • Always keep decorations away from heat vents and fireplaces

Candle Care

  • Make sure candles are in a stable candle holder
  • Place candles where they can't be easily knocked down
  • Never put candles on your Christmas Tree
  • Never leave candles unattended