Fire Prevention and Safety in Your Home

House fires cause approximately $7 billion in damage per year. Of course, you want to protect your valuables, but more important is your safety and that of your family (and pets). How many of the following tips have you implemented?

  1. SMOKE ALARMS – Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your house, preferably one for each bedroom, as well as one in each bathroom and the kitchen. If the smoke alarms are to be hardwired, have a professional install them. If they run on batteries, check the batteries regularly (for instance: every time you change clocks for Daylight Savings Time, or on the first day of each season).
  2. FIRE EXTINGUISHER- Have at least one fire extinguisher on every level of your home. Ideally, the kitchen and the garage each need a fire extinguisher as those are the most likely areas of the house to experience a fire. Make sure everyone in your house knows how properly to use a fire extinguisher, beginning with how to know whether a fire is one you can handle or whether exiting the house is the most reasonable course of action.
  3. ESCAPE LADDERS – If you have a two story house, every occupied room above the first level, including family or loft rooms, should have an escape ladder.
  4. ESCAPE PLAN – This might seem an unnecessary step, as you are familiar with your home, but in the event of an emergency, it helps if you’ve thought through and even practiced enough to be able to act without thinking. Come up with two ways to exit every single room (if a room doesn’t have two ways to get out, don’t allow regular dwelling of that area). Physically walk through your house, reviewing these plans with kids. Let them practice exiting the house on their own. Designate a meeting place for everyone once you get outside.
  5. DOCUMENTATION OF VALUABLES – Take detailed photos or a video of every room in your house. Update this information every couple of years so it’s always up-to-date. If you have any potentially high-value items such as jewelry or furniture, have it appraised or save your purchase receipt.
  6. FIREPROOF SAFE – Keep sensitive documents, including vital records, identification cards, insurance policies, and other information including the above records, in a fireproof safe.
  7. COOK CAREFULLY – Never leave your kitchen unattended when cooking. Keep flammable items like towels and loose clothing away from cooking surfaces. Turn off the oven when you’re finished with it.
  8. MAINTAIN HEATING EQUIPMENT – Have fireplaces inspected and cleaned yearly. Change your furnace filters. Don’t put shoes and clothes on heat source to dry. Don’t use space heaters when you’re not home, and only use space heaters that shut off automatically when knocked over.
  10. PAY ATTENTION TO ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT – Check all electronics for damaged cords. Use tamper-resistant outlets or outlet covers. Don’t overload outlets. If you have regular problems with electricity (brown-outs, blown fuses, etc.), contact an electrician. Only use extension cords temporarily. Don’t run cords under rugs or furniture.
  11. ISOLATE CANDLES – Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that might be flammable. Blow out candles when leaving a room.
  13. GRILL SMART – Always grill outside. Clean the removable parts of the grill and check for propane leaks regularly. Don’t leave a grill unattended.
  14. EDUCATE KIDS – Talk with them about safety measures and escape routes. Teach them how to use a fire extinguisher, how to respond to a smoke alarm, and what to do in the event of an emergency.
  15. ‘TIS THE SEASON – Check your light strings for frayed wires. Water live Christmas trees. Don’t leave lights on if you’re going to be gone from home more than a couple of hours. Don’t overload outlets.