October is Fire Prevention month! We’re here to help you create and maintain a safe environment for your entire family. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans every year. Our fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residential areas alone. A home is often referred to as a safe haven, and this month, make sure yours is protected by taking these extra precautions!
Fire Place and Chimney Safety
As the weather gets cooler, many families enjoy lighting a fire inside, for warmth and comfort. However, according to the National Fire Prevention Agency, or the NFPA, 38% of house fires are caused by fireplaces and chimneys. A great way to prevent a chimney fire is to get it professionally cleaned at least once a year. The most optimal time to clean your chimney is right before the cooler months hit. This will ensure your fireplace can handle the continuous use throughout the cooler months.
Burning the right type of wood is essential in fire prevention. When choosing which wood to burn, go with “seasoned” dense wood, like oak. This wood has been split, dried, and been stored for up to 1 year, sheltered from rain and snow. Don’t burn green resinous softwoods, like pine. This wood produces creosote, a sticky, oily, combustible substance giving you a higher chance at creating a chimney fire.
Always use a spark guard! Unless you want to babysit your fireplace, using a mesh metal screen will prevent sparks from flying onto the wood or carpet and igniting your home.
Carbon Monoxide Prevention
Improper care of your fireplace and chimney is just one of the ways your home can create carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless toxic gas. Hundreds of people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t let your family members be one of them! The most effective way to detect carbon monoxide in your home is by purchasing a CO2 detector. These can easily be picked up at any local hardware or shopping centers, like Wal-Mart or Target.
Although carbon monoxide does not cause fires, it is caused by a combustion in your furnace. Taking proper precautions and purchasing the proper tools to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, will keep your family healthy and living to enjoy another year.
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
Smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50%. They are the critical first step in protecting yourself against a house fire. According to the NFPA, smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in your basement as well.
If you’re like most families, you probably didn’t know your smoke alarm has a shelf life! To find out how old your smoke alarm is, and it’s expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. All smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years from that date, not the date of purchase. You should also test your detectors monthly, and replace the batteries every year. If you notice a chirping or beeping noise coming from your detector, it’s time to change the batteries, but do so ASAP. You wouldn’t want to forget and find yourself in a heated situation!
Safety Throughout Your Home
Being proactive and preventing a house fire can be easier than you think, it just takes a little more effort and care. Your kitchen is one of the biggest fire spots around the house, so taking the time to create a safe environment, will save you in the long run!
One of the easiest ways to prevent a kitchen fire is to remain focused while preparing your dishes. Never leave your stove unattended while cooking and keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher near your stove, just in case. Make sure your appliances are in good, clean condition, and don’t operate the microwave with foil, metal, or without any food inside! If you do happen to create an oil or grease fire, don’t pour water on it! Instead, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the stove. Water will only cause the fire to spread. If you have a fire in your oven, close the oven door and turn it off. These precautions may seem simple, but it will save your house and wallet from thousands of dollars in damages.
Portable heaters are a great way to warm up a small area, however, you should always make sure there is someone in the room when the heater is in use. While in a room, make sure your heater is at least 3.5 feet away from touching anything and will automatically shut off if tipped over. These handy heaters are the cause of 38% of house fires every year, so taking extra precautions when in use can help avoid a small fire from starting.
A great way to protect your home from a fire is to install fire safety sprinklers! These sprinkles, when combined with working smoke alarms, greatly increase your chances of surviving a fire. These sprinklers are affordable and they can even increase the property value of your home and lower insurance rates.
Avoid a Hazardous Holiday
Practicing fire safety during the holidays can sometimes get lost in the mix of what’s going on. 1 out of every 31 homes will face a Christmas tree fire. Preparing your family for the holidays will save you heartache and misery.
One of the easiest ways to protect your Christmas tree from a fire is by watering it daily! Christmas trees dry out very quickly, so giving it plenty of water will help save your family from an unexpected fire. A great alternative to a real tree is a store-bought tree. Some may have a negative outlook on “fake” trees, however, there are a plethora of different styles for your family to choose from. You can invest in a tree that will look gorgeous from Black Friday to New Years Day and won’t leave your home at risk of a fire. I’d say that’s a win-win!
Another holiday tradition that can cause destruction to over 900 homes a year is turkey fryers. These bad boys produce a delicious turkey, however, they can cause nearly $15-million dollars worth of property damage every Thanksgiving! If you choose to use a turkey fryer, educating yourself on the proper use and safety precautions will make all the difference this holiday season.
Have a Plan
Less than 1 in 5 families with children ages 3-17 have practiced home fire drills. That means only 18% of families have taken precautions to protect themselves from a house fire. While nearly less than half of the parents in America have talked to their families about fire safety.
Opening the discussion of fire safety is your job as a parent or guardian. Providing an escape route for each person will ensure the safety of their lives if a situation like this occurs. Establish an easy-to-identify location where everyone can meet after escaping and practice your plan periodically. Teach young children to not hide from smoke or fire and to show them that firefighters are there to help! Along with teaching your child to not fear fire, you should also make sure they know their address and last name, just in case they get separated from the family.
Ensuring your family is educated about fire safety can mean the difference between life and death. Properly showing children how to escape from a fire will only secure your entire families safety and survival. Use this month as a platform to educate not only your children but yourself as well. A family is only as strong as it’s backbone and children are lead by example. Take 5 minutes today with your family and practice your fire safety escape. It just may save your life!