As temperatures drop, heaters, fireplaces and candles make their come-back — and with them an increased risk for home fires. As fire danger increases, re-train yourself to be extra mindful and safety-conscious.
Take a look at the main fire hazards in the average home:
The kitchen is a danger zone! This is where most home fires originate, so it’s important to be extra mindful. Of course, never leave an open-flame stove unattended. If you are multitasking, set yourself a timer to remind you to turn off burners and ovens.
Keep in mind that an electrical stove does not remove the fire hazard! Even a simple pot of Mac-and-Cheese can catch on fire when the butter is dropped into too hot of a pot!! (We are speaking from experience. Always remove the pot from the burner and remember to turn the heat off.)
That’s why it’s important to always keep a large lid nearby, especially when frying or cooking with grease. It can be used to cover a pan fire so it will be smothered out. Never ever attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. The consequences can be disastrous as water on hot grease can cause a powerful explosion. Also, never try to carry a burning pan outside yourself – you may injure yourself, others, AND set your surroundings on fire.
Keep your cook top clean and the surrounding counters clutter-free, and opt to wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.
There is not much that beats the welcoming feeling of a warm home after some time spent in the cold. But the same heat that warms you through can quickly burn your home to the ground if not maintained.
Get your fireplace a good cleaning and give your own good luck meter a boost: Call a chimney sweep to come to your house and inspect your fireplace, flue and chimney for creosote, debris, blockages or leaks. Install a screen or a glass pane in front of the fire place to prevent sparks and embers from ‘jumping’ out and igniting flammable items. Never use fire-starter to re-ignite a fire that has fizzed out – the vapors can explode. And, of course, don’t store combustible materials near the fireplace.
Electric Heaters and Space Heaters
If you must have a space heater, be sure to invest in the latest model that is up-to-par with latest safety standards and automatic shut-off. Older models often lack the safety features of newer space-heaters.
Keep the heater on a sturdy, level, non-flammable surface at least 3 feet from any flammable materials, including drapes, furniture or — pets and children. Avoid using space-heaters in mobile homes.
Similarly, give baseboard heaters lots of room. Don’t place furniture in front, toys on top, pillows underneath or anything inside… it could catch on fire.
Almost 15,000 home fires per year happen courtesy of your clothes dryer.
Option 1: Avoid the dryer and invest in lots of drying racks.
Option 2: Maintain your dryer according to manufacturer’s directions, clean vents and ducts frequently and clean the lint filter after every use.
4. Candles and Holiday Decor
Always place candles on a sturdy, level, non-combustible surface and never leave them unattended, even if you only plan to leave the room for a few minutes.
And as wonderful and welcoming as it is to arrive to a warmly lit home, it is wiser to turn the lights on yourself once you are home. Electric shorts or faulty wiring have set many a decorative item on fire.
5. Know Your Safety Tools and Keep Them in Good Shape
What are your fire safety and prevention tools? Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguisher and a Family Escape Plan!
Install smoke detectors in your kitchen, laundry room and in each bedroom. It is important to test them frequently and routinely change the batteries twice year. (The daylight savings time switch is a great time to do this!)
When it comes to fire extinguishers, they, too, need a little TLC. Install your fire extinguisher in plain sight but out of the reach of children along an escape route. Have it inspected and serviced once a year – fire extinguishers do have an expiration date! Most importantly, know how to use it and always call 911 before using it.
Last but not least, develop a Family Escape Plan and practice, practice, practice. The most important elements include
- each family member knows at least two ways out of their room
- each family member knows the family meeting spot outside the home
- each family member knows the ‘stop, drop and roll’ drill
If you observe these 5 tips for added safety in the high-danger areas of your home, you are well on your way to being a fire-prevention and safety expert. Thanks for Living Proactively with us!