The thought of losing your home to a fire is terrifying, but there are plenty of things you can do to prevent house fires from starting. Even though accidents happen, there are ways to prevent fires from spreading.
- Check your smoke detectors
In the event of a fire, a smoke detector is your first line of defense. The sensors inside that little device on your wall sound an alarm when smoke and heat enter. This means you can catch the problem before it becomes an emergency. Make sure your smoke and fire detectors are in good working order.
Test every month
Test your smoke and fire detectors once a month. Testing them only takes a few minutes, and it can save your home in an emergency. Detectors vary in testing, but most have a button on their faces. Press that button and wait for the alarm. Have someone else to listen for the alarm from a distance. Keep your smoke detectors in good working order by doing this once a month.
As needed, replace the batteries
You’ll know when smoke alarm batteries are low. The annoying chirps every few minutes aren’t just for fun. They’re low-battery alerts and they shouldn’t be ignored. In case of a fire in your home and your smoke detector’s batteries are drained, the alarm won’t sound and that put your home at risk. To keep your fire warning system in top shape, replace your smoke detectors every ten years.
- Watch your appliances
While stoves and washing machines make life easier, they can also pose a fire hazard. Almost half of all house fires begin in the kitchen, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Thankfully, you can make every room in your house a little safer.
Whenever you’re cooking, keep your oven, stove, and hot plates away from flammable items like curtains, rags, or chemicals. Don’t leave the room unattended if you can help it. In case of grease fires or other emergencies, keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Ensure your mattress contains flame-retardant chemicals by checking the inside. For extra protection, consider a flame-retardant mattress cover.
Smart fire safety practices and good habits can help to prevent fires in the bedroom as well. Overloaded wall sockets, electric blankets, smoking in bed, and space heaters are all hazards in the bedroom. If you smoke, take it outside. Make sure electric blankets have an automatic shut-off feature. And avoid overloading wall sockets and power strips with too many plugs.
The living rooms
If you have a fireplace, your living room or den may be a hot spot for fire hazards. Keep the stove or fireplace clean and free of debris or flammable items (even when not in use). Having a Christmas tree near the fire sounds cozy, but it can be seriously dangerous without proper precautions.
If you are using your fireplace, keep the glass windows open and the metal screen closed. It allows air to enter the fireplace, but keeps embers from jumping onto your floors.
Garage and outside
Outdoor fires commonly occur due to grills, bonfires, and fireworks. Did you know potting soil can also cause a fire? Fertilizer and some brands of potting soil contain flammable materials that can combust under heat or after someone ashes a cigarette.
Keep flammable products away from heat, whether it’s the grill or the summer sun. Designate a cool, dark cupboard for flammable products and make sure all family members know where they go. Be sure to keep combustible materials in their original containers, such as gasoline and paint. Keep tightly closed paint containers upside down to create a seal. Gasoline should be stored in containers designed for it.
- Measure carbon monoxide levels
Even though carbon monoxide doesn’t damage your home like a fire, it is still dangerous. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas released from burning carbon materials like fuel.
CO is released into your home when you burn wood, natural gas, coal, gasoline, or heating oil. Cooking on a gas stove or using your fireplace improperly increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.