Residential fires kill around 3,000 Americans each year, but they don’t need to. Most deaths can be prevented if homeowners follow some basic fire prevention tips. Here are some basic fire safety suggestions to help ensure your household is as prepared as possible in the event of fire strikes.
Home Fire Safety Tip #1: Install Smoke Detectors
Simply put, having smoke detectors installed in your home is your single best weapon against fire fatalities. Of those 3,000 deaths mentioned earlier, most happen in homes without working smoke detectors. Smoke detectors should be placed on every floor of your home and in the immediate vicinity of any bedrooms. The detectors should be tested once a month, and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year. Most manufacturers suggest that you completely replace your smoke detectors every 10 years as well, just to be safe.
Home Fire Safety Tip #2: Develop an Escape Plan
Besides smoke detectors, the second most important thing you can do is to draw up an escape plan, and talk about it, in detail, with your family. This means planning at least two escape routes from every bedroom, purchasing fire ladders for upstairs bedrooms, and making sure that every member of your household knows basic home fire safety procedures. Checking doors for heat before opening them, crawling on the floor to stay out of the smoke, and knowing the closest way out, can all save lives in a major fire. Finally, don’t just talk about your plan, practice it at least twice a year. Remember those fire drills back in grade school? Schedule a few for your home as well.
Home Fire Safety Tip #3: Install Fire Extinguishers
Having several fire extinguishers on hand throughout your home is critical when it comes to making sure small fires don’t turn into big ones. Always keep one in the kitchen, one in the garage, and one in any workshop areas of your home, since those are where most residential fires start. Also, check your extinguishers regularly to make sure they’re still in working order. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than pulling the pin, squeezing the handle, and having nothing happen because your fire extinguisher has expired.
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Home Fire Safety Tip #4: Use Your Noggin
Many residential fires happen purely because homeowners are careless when it comes to common fire prevention tips. Never smoke in bed, for example. Doing so is just asking for trouble. Also, place space heaters at least 3 feet away from any flammable surface, including walls, since they are another major source of house fires. And finally, don’t overload electrical sockets. There’s a reason that outlets are manufactured with only two plug ins per unit. Overloading a circuit with extension chords and “octopus” outlets can easily lead to a fire.
Home Fire Safety Tip #5: Educate Children about the Dangers of Fire
By some accounts, over 100,000 fires are set every year by children under 5 years old playing with matches or lighters. Sit down and talk to your kids about the dangers of playing with fire, and about the potentially lethal consequences of doing so.
Home fire safety is a vital part of protecting members of your household from the devastating effects of a fire. By following a few simple fire prevention tips, you can rest easy knowing you and yours are as prepared as possible if the worst should happen to you.