With fire, almost certainly comes damage, usually it’s either personal or a financial affect. While insurance can cover both of these, it can’t cover injury or possible death to you, your families or firefighters that respond to it.
I’m here to discuss with you one of the most important topics that can affect you and your family – fire safety.
Did you know that each year in America there are 354,400 home structure fires per year, 2,600 civilians die each year because of these fires and 11,200 civilians are injured.
In addition, more than a hundred firefighters in the United States are killed every year responding to these fires.
Beyond the loss of human life, fires are very costly on a monetary basis, causing 6.9 billion dollars of damage each year.
Every home fire is a tragedy. Homes are the center of our lives, our biggest investment. The place our children grow up and where we create our fondest memories.
Unfortunately every year home fires destroy billions of dollars of property, take lives and cause intense suffering.
A fire in the home is everyone’s worst nightmare. The good news is that there are many actions you can take to prevent a fire from ever happening.
Home Fire Prevention Tips
Prevention starts by understanding your home and the environment surrounding it.
The most common place for a house fire to start is in the kitchen while you’re cooking. So let’s start there.
If a fire occurs on the stove, it’s likely to be caused by burning oil or grease. Many people react by tossing the burning pan into the sink, but this isn’t a good idea for lots of reasons.
The fire can easily spread to window curtains and blind. A burning pan may also cause serious burns to you or to those around you.
The best course of action is to put a lid on the fire, choke off the oxygen and smother it.
We recommend you place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. It’s also recommended that the entire family becomes well acquainted with its location and its use.
If you’re not sure how to use an extinguisher, go to your local fire department and ask if classes are available.
An easy and helpful acronym we teach is PASS – pull, aim, squeeze and sweep. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the trigger and then sweep the base of the fire.
If you need to purchase an extinguisher, you should keep in mind that a large fire extinguisher isn’t necessary to put out a fire. A small one if used properly can be very effective.
There are many different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires. Knowing which one to buy is very important.
The most common extinguishers are the A, B or C classes.
- A refers to common types of fires, started by wood or paper.
- B type extinguishers are used on fires caused by grease or flammable liquids and they’re ideal for use in the kitchen.
- C extinguishers are used for electrical equipment that ignites while plugged in.
The good news is that most of the extinguishers sold today are effective for different types of fires and every extinguisher lists the types of fires for which they’ll be effective.
Another source of fire, especially in or near the kitchen, is the misuse of matches.
We all know that children love to play with matches, so you need to be very careful where you store them. Store them out of sight. The best solution is to store them high and out of reach.
Same goes for candles and cents or anything else that burns. We all use candles at birthday parties or other celebrations and sometimes we like candles in several rooms and then forget about them. Remember to always blow them out or smother them before you leave the house.
As you move through your house, you should ask yourself what are the other devices that could cause a fire.
Space heaters are great concern. Many of us subscribe to magazines and newspapers while keeping them for a few days, weeks or even months. Combine these items with a space heater and you have a deadly combination.
Keeping what firefighters call a defensible space around the heater is important. A good rule of thumb is to keep a foot and a half of space on all sides, free and clear.
It’s especially important to keep your heater a good distance from your bed because blankets pose a real danger.
Children are fascinated by these kinds of devices and it’s important to keep the heater out of the path of children and pets.
Another good rule of thumb is to turn off any and all space heaters when not in use. You need to especially be vigilant if you leave the home for an extended period of time or vacation. Treat the space heater like your fireplace. When you’re not home neither one should be in use.
The laundry room is another area of the house that has a potential for fire. Take a look at your dryer. Hard to imagine, but lots of fires start here.
Lint traps become clogged and can be very dangerous. You should get into the habit of cleaning it out after every drying cycle. Also make sure that your flex tube at the back of your dryer isn’t kinked. This can cause lint to build up.
A clue that the tube needs to be replaced, cleaned or unkicked is that your dryer will begin to whistle.
Another sign of a clogged tube is that drying time takes much longer than normal. Check the tube and keep it free from lint.
Our homes have never been so full of computers, large screen TVs and other appliances. These appliances are a major source of fires.
Kinked or frayed wires and extension cords can be extremely dangerous.
Running wires under rugs or furniture can cause wires to become frayed. When it comes to extension cords, please remember, they’re supposed to be temporary. If you need more outlets, use power strips with circuit breakers. These will automatically shut down during a power surge and protect your electrical equipment.
Frequently used appliances like an iron or blow dryer can also cause fires. A good rule of thumb is to buy appliances that are Underwriter Laboratory or UL certified since these have a circuit breaker attached to the GFI coded plug.
Remember unplugging and unused appliance is the best fire prevention.
When it comes to kids, there’s no such thing as being too safe. Young ones have curious fingers and toes that manage to find everything that is unsafe, especially electrical outlets.
For a minimal cost you can purchase outlet plug ins and outlet covers to prevent those curious young minds from sticking objects into electrical outlets.
Holidays are meant to be festive and fun but too many times these celebrations end in disaster. Make sure you decorate your home inside and out responsibly.
If you purchase a Christmas tree, shake out the excess needles prior to bringing it inside.
Make sure you water it frequently to prevent the tree from drying.
When putting up lights outside, make sure the lights are equipped for outdoor use.
Also cover all extension cord unions with electrical tape.
If your home is heated with natural gas, there’s a main valve that allows the gas to flow to your furnace, dryer, stove and fireplace. You need to know the location of this valve. If a natural disaster occurs, such as an earthquake, flood or tornado, you should turn off the gas immediately to stop the flow.
You should also know how to turn off the furnace. It’s also a good thing to change the furnace filter every six months since accumulated dust can cause a fire.
Know where your circuit breakers are and how to shut them down and if you have a gas fireplace know how to turn that off too.
In case of an emergency, firefighters need to be able to get to your home, you need to make sure that your address is visible from the street. Make sure you have a well lit number light, large exterior numbers and clearly painted numbers on the curve.
This makes your home fast and easy for the fire department to find during an emergency.
Your yard also poses a fire hazard. Make sure to keep overgrown grass and weeds to a minimum.
Remember preparing your home for a fire is the best way to prevent one from happening.
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