How safe is your home when it comes to protecting it from a threat like a house fire? This month serves as a reminder to put this concern front and center so that you can assure the best outcome in case of an emergency.
Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) celebrates National Fire Safety Month in October. While no one anticipates a fire in their home, the uncomfortable truth is that fire departments in the United States respond to a fire call every 24 seconds, as reported by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The reality is that fire emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. To keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way, it’s crucial to be aware of how to curb common fire risks. That said, here are five essential home fire safety tips to keep in mind this month and beyond:
1. Practice Safe Cooking Practices
Cooking is the leading cause of fires and injuries in households, according to the NFPA. Not surprisingly, unattended cooking is the primary contributing factor. So, when frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food, it’s important you don’t divert your attention. If you must step away, even briefly, remember to turn off the stove.
Additionally, when simmering, baking, or roasting, be attentive and use a timer as a reminder to check on your food regularly. Other cooking safety tips from the NFPA include staying alert, checking food consistently, and keeping flammable items such as oven mitts, dish towels, wooden utensils, and food packaging away from the cooktop.
It’s also recommended to create a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove or any area where hot food is being prepared, such as near a slow cooker.
2. Heat Your Home Safely
As the weather turns colder, a warm home is comforting, but it should be done safely. To that end, keep flammable materials at least three feet away from heating equipment. That means furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, or wood stoves. Always switch off space heaters before leaving a room or going to bed.
Never leave pets or children unsupervised near a space heater or wood stove. Do not use your oven as a heating source. Before using your furnace or fireplace during the winter, have them professionally cleaned and inspected and follow up on any recommended maintenance. This isn’t the place to cut any corners.
On a similar note, this is the time to invest in HVAC maintenance. Our team of experts can identify any safety hazards, like leaks or damaged components and offer peace of mind as winter approaches. Having annual HVAC maintenance performed can reduce the risk of fire in your home year-round.
3. Inspect Electrical Cords
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that about 2,000 fires annually result from damaged electrical cords, overloaded plugs, or short circuits. Check all your electrical cords for signs of wear such as fraying, cracks, or damage, and replace or have them professionally repaired if needed. Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets, as advised by the NFPA.
The CPSC also recommends only using extension cords when necessary and for a limited duration, avoiding overloading outlets and power strips and using cords labeled “for outdoor use” when applicable. It’s also advisable to select certified cords and power strips from independent testing labs.
4. Opt for Flameless Candles
Traditional candles might create a homey feeling but they’re not without risks. Open-flame candles can pose a fire hazard, whether for relaxation or decoration. The NFPA recommends choosing flameless candles, such as battery-operated LED versions. These candles often provide a realistic flicker and scent.
If you must burn a candle, follow the guidance from the National Candle Association. For one, always keep burning candles within sight and extinguish them when leaving the room or going to sleep. Use sturdy, heat-resistant candle holders that are stable and large enough to catch dripping wax. Place candle holders on a heat-resistant surface. It’s also very important that you keep them away from flammable materials like curtains, bedding, decorations, and books.
5. Test Your Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors serve as the first line of defense in the event of a fire so you want to make sure they’re in good order. According to the NFPA, it’s crucial to test your smoke detectors monthly and change their batteries at least once a year. For ease in remembering, you might do so during the transition to or from daylight saving time. Replace any smoke detectors that are more than a decade old.
Ensure you follow the NFPA’s recommendations for smoke alarm placement, which includes installing detectors inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every floor of your house, including the basement.
National Fire Safety Month serves as a reminder to plan and practice sound safety habits, helping to protect your home and family from common fire risks. A little preparation and routine maintenance can go a long way in preventing fires and ensuring you’ll be alerted in case something goes awry.
6. Invest in Fire Extinguishers
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher that’s easily accessible. You can find them at your local hardware store chain. Keep fire extinguishers in key areas of your home, like the kitchen and garage. Learn how to use them, and make sure they are regularly inspected and maintained.
7. Keep Exits Clear
If a fire breaks out, you need to ensure your family can get out in a timely manner. Ensure that windows and doors can be easily opened, and keep exits clear of obstructions. This is especially important for first responders who arrive on the scene to help.
8. Have a Fire Escape Plan
On a related note, it’s important to plan for an unfortunate scenario even if unpleasant. Develop a fire escape plan with your family, including multiple escape routes from each room. Practice it regularly, especially with children, so everyone knows what to do in such situations.
Also, know that our team at JO Mory is in your corner when it comes to preventing a disaster in the home. Prevention starts with expert work. Our licensed electricians have the experience to provide the safe, responsible electrical expertise you need. If you have questions or would like to arrange for a free quote, call us at 800.621.6679