A house fire is something that we all hope we never have to experience. Thousands of people die each year and many more are injured due to house fires. However, the sad reality is that most of these house fires could have been prevented. Below are 10 safety tips to help prevent or reduce the risk of a disastrous fire in your home.
1. Smoke Alarms
Fire is always preceded by smoke. Having a smoke alarm on every level of your home is one of the best defenses against a major fire. You should also check your smoke detectors at least every 2 months to see that the batteries are in place and that the unit is in good working condition.
2. Kids and Matches
Most children are naturally fascinated by the flame of matches or a cigarette lighter. If you have children in your home, you must teach them that these items are not to be played with. Make them aware how easily these items can cause a dangerous fire. You should make every effort to keep matches and cigarette lighters where children cannot reach them.
Cooking accidents are one of the leading causes of house fires. Keep kitchen towels and oven mitts safely away from open flames. Avoid wearing loose clothing like scarves, ties or hanging sleeves while cooking. Also, you should make it a rule to never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
Too many fires are started every year because of careless smokers. If you have a smoker in your home, encourage them to smoke outside if possible. Otherwise, provide a sturdy ashtray and make sure lit cigarette butts are not left around. Make it a rule for smokers not to smoke while in bed or when feeling drowsy.
5. Portable Heating Units
When using portable heating units make sure they are at least 3 feet away from curtains, furniture, bedding, papers and any other flammable materials. These units should only be used on hard, level surfaces. Make sure the heating unit is in good working condition and that there are no loose or exposed coils or wires.
You may need to use candles when there is a power outage. Or you may just like to use candles for the beautiful glow and scent that they give to a room. In either case, make sure that they are in a secure spot away from curtains and other things that can easily catch on fire. Make sure you put the candle out if you have to leave the room for more than a few minutes, and never leave candles burning overnight while you sleep.
7. Fire Extinguishers
You should keep a portable fire extinguisher in your home. It should be kept in a place where it is easily accessible. Make sure each adult in your home knows how to use it as well as older children. Having a fire extinguisher can keep a small flame from turning into a disastrous fire that can destroy your home.
8. Electrical Fire Hazards
Be careful not to overload circuits or extension cords. If your extension cords or surge protectors are old or worn, replace them. Always pay attention to warnings that come with new electrical appliances. Cords and wires should not be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas. You should have an electrician check the electrical wiring throughout the home every two to three years.
9. Holiday Decorations
Many people like to fill their home with beautiful lights during the holiday season. However, you must think about safety when using decorations that involve electricity. To prevent fires, you should never leave decorations plugged in overnight or when you are away from home. If you decorate your home with a live Christmas tree, make sure you water it every day. A dry tree can go up in flames very quickly.
To ensure safety, fireplaces need to be properly maintained. You should have your fireplace and chimney checked by a chimney sweep every year before use. If you use hardwood, make sure it is completely dry to prevent the buildup of creosote (a very flammable tar). Using a glass door or screen in front of your fireplace will also help avoid accidents and add extra safety.
BONUS TIP: Make an Escape Plan
Unfortunately, even after taking precautions to prevent fires, a fire may break out from an unexpected source. So your fire prevention plan should include an escape procedure. You should review this plan with every member of your family. Make sure they know the best escape routes in case a fire does occur in your home.
Setting guidelines in your home based on these fire prevention tips can surely keep your family safe.