Preventing fires in the home is an ongoing effort that consists of attention to the details of everyday life and educating all members of a household in fire safety. Fires cause the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in property each year. Many of these incidents can be prevented by simple actions and awareness of common fire dangers.
1 – Cooking Hazards
Cooking is one of the most common causes of residential fires. You should never leave pots and pans unattended on the kitchen range, especially if you are frying or grilling. If your attention is diverted for even a minute, turn off the stove and remove the item from the surface. Clothing that catches fire is another hazard that can occur when cooking. Avoid loose sleeves or flowing material that can easily catch fire near a cooking surface. Keep window curtains, dish clothes and oven mitts away from the range top. Keep a small fire extinguisher in an easily accessible spot in your kitchen and ensure that all family members know how to use it properly. In addition, you should avoid cooking when you are sleepy, under the influence of alcohol or taking medications that make you drowsy.
2 – Heating Hazards
Have your furnace system inspected regularly for proper operation. Only use space heaters when you can monitor their operation continually. Keep materials some distance away from any heating equipment. Similarly, you should also take great care with fireplaces and wood stoves. Always use a fire screen when using your fireplace to contain sparks and cinders that can escape from the firebox and ignite carpeting, furniture or other nearby materials. Have your fireplace inspected annually to ensure good operation and to remove creosote buildup, which can ignite and cause a chimney fire. Ensure wood stoves are properly installed with clearance at the top, bottom, sides, back and front. Remove ash periodically and dispose of safely outside the home. Keep children away from wood stoves. Clean out the duct from your home laundry dryer periodically to remove flammable clothing lint.
3 – Smoking Hazards
Individuals who smoke should always smoke outside, both to prevent accidental fires and to reduce unpleasant smells that linger inside the home. Always empty ashtrays in a safe manner before they become dangerously full. Carefully stub out cigarettes and cigars to prevent re-igniting. Never toss a cigarette butt into the trash can, even if you think it has been put out.
4 – Appliance Cords
Periodically examine the cords of all electrical and electronic equipment in your home. If you find any cords that are frayed, have them replaced to avoid a fire hazard. Do not tuck cords under furniture or carpets.
5 – Candles
Candles have become a popular way to add to home decors, provide pleasant scents for interior spaces and to set the mood for entertaining. However, these items can cause home fire hazards. Always monitor candles carefully when in use
6 – Flammable Liquids
If you keep kerosene or gasoline on hand, ensure that is it carefully stored away when not in use. Never overfill equipment, and clean up any spills thoroughly. Propane tanks for grills or other heating should be stored and examined periodically.
7 – Lamps and Lighting Hazards
Hanging lights should be insulated from wood paneling and wood ceiling joists. Lamps should be on a secure base to prevent falling over and causing a hazard. Avoid placing clothing or paper items over lampshades. LED lights produce less heat than incandescent bulbs and can be a safer choice for the home.
8 – Grills and Fire Pits
Outdoor cooking can also pose fire hazards. Keep clothing, hand towels and other materials away from barbecue grills and fire pits. Clean the grilling surface regularly to remove a buildup of flammable debris. Keep an extinguisher on hand in case of unexpected fires.
9 – Bad Wiring
Older homes may have wiring that is inadequate for today’s heavy use of electricity. If you are blowing fuses or the circuit breaker frequently, experience dimming of light when you plug in an appliance or have to unplug one item to use another, your electrical system may be posing a hazard for your home. Have a reputable contractor check your wiring and make necessary improvements, if indicated.
10 – Curious Kids
Kids are very curious and may become attracted to matches or other flame-producing equipment. Keep these items away from children on high shelves, so they are unable to reach them. Instill a habit of fire safety at an early age, by teaching them the dangers involved in operating the kitchen range, electrical devices and other types of equipment.
Regular inspection of your home systems can help to avoid the damage to property and life caused by house fires. Keeping a fire extinguisher in a convenient place and monitoring your daily habits can ensure the safety of you and your family. If you pay attention to these 10 areas, you will be less likely to experience a fire.