Updated: Feb 28, 2020
I'm a bit of a TV junkie and I love shows like 9-1-1 and Chicago Fire that follow the melodramatic lives of fictional firefighters. After watching some particularly gruesome home fire stories recently, I started thinking about my own home's fire safety. I ended up finding a bunch of dead detectors and a crusty old extinguisher from a previous owner. I'm sure that if I were being graded on safety I would have earned a D- at best. So I did a little research and made some changes. I hope this article may inspire you and your family to do the same.
Steps to a safer home:
The top 5 causes of house fires according to the National Fire Protection Association are:
1. Cooking 2. Heating 3. Electrical 4. Smoking 5. Candles
Making sure that there are no flammables near the stove or other cooking appliances (deep fryer, instapot, etc.) and never leave anything cooking unattended.
Change furnace filters regularly. Never leave space heaters, fireplaces, or heating pads turned on when you are sleeping or out of the home.
Be sure your home has a thorough electrical inspection before purchase or renting and know where your electrical box is and how to turn off power when necessary.
Never smoke indoors and have a safe designated place to extinguish butts thoroughly outdoors.
Keep flamable items such as curtains or decorations far from candles and never leave a candle burning unattended.
Close bedroom doors at night to slow any potential fire from spreading more quickly.
Be sure your home has a working smoke detector in every room. You should also have at least 1 carbon monoxide detector. There are two types of smoke detectors (a mix of types is best) and you can get combination smoke/Co2 detectors as well. Test your smoke detectors at least every 6 months (doing at daylight savings start and end is great timing!).
When the fire flares up on your stove or smoke alarms blare what will you do? Take action by having several fire extinguishers throughout your home. Strategically placing in the kitchen, utility room, near fireplaces or heaters, and where you like to burn candles is a great start. At the holidays place an extinguisher near the Christmas Tree which is a common fire hazard.
Have several evacuation plans from different points of egress throughout your home. Think about trimming trees or shrubs to leave room for a person to jump out lower story windows. Get a safety ladder for each bedroom on upper floors to allow exit from 2nd story windows. Plan a location for all family members to meet (ex. at the big tree out front or the mailbox). Run fire drills to show family members where extinguishers are and how to get out of every room of the house.
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