Do you have a plan in place to prevent a fire from starting in your home? During 2015, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reported that there were a total of 1,345,500 fires in the United States which caused $14.3 billion in property damage.
The truth is that most home fires are preventable. Let's take a look at some fire prevention tactics that can help lower your risk of a home fire.
Test Your Smoke Alarm – Each Fire Prevention Week focuses on a specific cause. This year's theme is “Don't Wait – Check the Date! Replace smoke alarms every 10 years." NFPA recommends testing your smoke alarms once per month, and all you have to do is press the “test” button on your alarm to make sure it's working. Once 10 years have passed, it's time to replace your alarm even if it's still working.
Careful Cooking – Many home fires start while the homeowner is cooking, and leaves the room briefly to complete another task. It's always better to remain in the room while cooking, because it only takes a moment for a grease or oven fire to start. If you're in the room, your better positioned to prevent a fire, and to address the issue quickly if a fire starts.
Update Extinguishers – First, be sure that you have fire extinguishers near high-risk areas including your kitchen. Just as with alarms, it's important to make sure that your fire extinguishers are up to date. The “expiration” date differs based on the type of fire extinguisher, and you can find the necessary information on a label attached to your extinguisher.
Smoke Outside – According to the Red Cross, if you smoke, it is always safer to do so outside with an ashtray or container nearby. Smoking indoors is one of the biggest risks for starting home fires, and furniture is especially vulnerable to smoldering ash.
Watch Your Wires – Frayed or damaged wires are common causes of home fires, so keep a close eye on appliances and electronics to make sure maintenance is up to date. House pets often think that wires are fun to play with, so be especially vigilant if you have pets at home.
Out of Reach – Children are naturally curious, and sometimes that curiosity leads them to play with things that they shouldn't. Educate your children on fire safety, and keep all lighters, matches, and fuel sources out of reach.
Have a Plan – While fire prevention can significantly lower your risk, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of a home fire. Develop a fire escape plan, including how to exit safely, where to meet, and who to call in the event of a fire. Practice your fire escape plan regularly, and be sure that any children in your home understand exactly what to do in the event of a fire.