Fire Prevention in the Home; Safety TipsBy Teresa Cowart in Blog,For Homeowners. Tagged: Fires at Home • Home Safety • Homeownership • Teresa Cowart
Our home is our safe haven. It contains our memories, our most precious items, pets and family. We protect it from theft by locking doors and installing security alarms. We protect our health by going to the doctor and we protect our memories by storing them in safe places.
One type of prevention that is often under utilized is fire safety. Below I have outlined some important safety measures that you can take to keep your home and family protected!
One of the most critical instruments in saving lives during a home fire is the smoke detector. It is a small but powerful tool. Many new homes are equipped with a smoke alarm in every room but having at least one on every floor of the home is the minimum. Any number is better than none.
All smoke detectors are powered by battery. Even if your home has the smoke alarms hard-wired to your electric, they will also require batteries for a back-up in case your power goes out. The bottom line is to try to check the batteries once a month and change them twice a year (a helpful way to remember is to do it when to change your clocks).
Other tools to install in your home that will add significant chances of surviving a fire are home sprinklers and fire extinguishers. Both are relatively affordable. Bonus: Installing home sprinklers can save you money on your homeowners insurance!
Map Out and Plan Escape Routes
Creating a plan to safely evacuate a house saves lives. When you are faced with a fire in your home, panic and smoke can make it very difficult to find your way out. Having a plan that all family members are aware of will prevent panic and confusion if hallways and rooms are filled with smoke.
The first step is to draw a map of your home and sketch escape routes as well as a meeting place outside that all family members go to after exiting the house. Remind adults and children to stay low to the ground when crawling out. If the door knobs are hot do not exit the door, fire will be on the other side.
Use a window, as another method to exit and keeping a fire ladder nearby if you are located on another story of the building or home. Teaching children the “stop, drop and roll” rule is effective and easy for them to learn if they catch on fire.
If you live in an apartment building be sure everyone knows how to find the fire escapes. Don’t forget about our furry friends. After you have exited the building let the firefighters know of any pets that may be still inside. Never go back into a burning building.
Electrical and Appliance Safety
It is always important to stay on top of the condition of your electrical wires, hook-ups and appliances. Things like a hot or smoking cord or a bad smell when an item is plugged in are all signs of a hazard. When you have cords and electrical strips plugged in try to have them not too close to other items and if they cause the lights to dim when plugged in, you may want to run it by an electrician to be safe.
If you are in a state with cold winters, many people use alternative heat methods like electric heaters or kerosene heaters. Be sure you are familiar with the owner’s manual and using the appliance properly. Keep flammable objects away from any heat sources. When not in use, keep them unplugged or turned off. If you have little ones or have young visitors be sure to keep these heating appliances away from curious hands. If you use a fireplace be sure to have the chimney properly cleaned yearly.
Candles are popular in many homes as a source of light and fragrance. Be sure to keep them at least a foot away from other objects and never leave them lit over night. Keep them as well as lighters and matches away from children. All children should be taught to stay away from any fire source or flammable item.
Never leave something cooking unattended. People also make the mistake of falling asleep while letting something simmer or bake for a long period of time.
If you have a grease fire, never use water to extinguish it. Quickly grab a lid (make sure you have an oven mitt on!) that fits and place it on top. This smothers out the oxygen. Turn off the heat of the stove. Leave the pan alone until it is cool completely. Teach children to stay away from a hot stove and oven. One idea recommended is to tape off an area around the stove that will teach them that they are to stay outside of that zone for safety. Once they are familiar with the area, the tape can be removed.
These are all basic fire safety rules for the home but there are some fantastic resources online to help refresh your memory and handle any specific questions. The simplest things can save lives. Stay informed and share it with others.
- Home Fire Safety: redcross.com
- What You Should Know About Home Fire Insurance Coverage: Wendy Weir
- Preventing and Treating Burns: nsc.org
- Additional Home Ownership Resources
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