7 Simple Fire Safety Tips That Will Keep Your Family Protected
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 370,000 house fires broke out in 2013, resulting in more than 12,000 civilian injuries, 2,700 deaths and $7 billion in property damage. Don’t allow your home and family to become part of these statistics. Stay protected by following these seven simple fire safety tips.
Install and Test Smoke Alarms Monthly
You should have one of these devices on every floor of your home, including inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Shop for interconnected smoke alarms, where all devices sound when a single smoke alarm detects a fire.
Test all smoke alarms monthly by pressing the “test” button. Replace batteries once a year or when the unit “chirps” to let you know the battery is low. Replace smoke alarms when they reach 10 years old.
The kitchen is the number one place for house fires to start. To keep you and your family safe, never leave your cooking unattended. Use a timer to tell you when food is done. Keep anything flammable – including oven mitts, recipe cards, towels and pot holders – away from the stovetop.
If a small grease fire breaks out, immediately turn off the burner and cover the pan with a lid to smother the flames. Leave the pan covered until it completely cools. For fires that start in the oven, turn off the heat and leave the door closed until the flames burn themselves out. When in doubt about fighting a fire, get outside and call 911.
Light Fires with Care
If your idea of a cozy winter night includes cuddling up by the fireplace, make sure you light fires with care. Keep the mantle and hearth free of debris, decorations and anything flammable. To prevent lots of smoke, start a small fire and add logs as needed to keep it burning. When you open the glass doors, keep the metal mesh screen closed to contain embers.
Keep an eye on small children while a fire is going. Install a childproof fireplace gate for safety. Never leave a lit fire unattended. Always put out the flames before leaving or going to sleep.
Address the Chimney
This fall, before it gets too cold outside, hire a professional to sweep your chimney. This removes soot, bird nests and other debris that has collected since the end of last winter. The chimney sweep will also look for damage that could cause a safety hazard. If you have a problem with bird nests, cap the chimney with a wire mesh cover to keep them out.
Burn Candles Carefully
Candles smell nice and look pretty, but left attended, they could cause a fire. Make sure you use sturdy candle holders set on a flat, stable surface away from the edge. Keep loose objects away from the flame, and never leave a child alone with burning candles. Consider using scented flameless candles that mimic the look and smell of real candles without the hazards.
Practice Electrical Safety
Electrical fires represent about 13% of all house fires, proving you don’t need a flame to start a fire. To ensure safety, be aware of and replace cracked or damaged cords. Keep flammable items off lampshades and away from light bulbs. Read light fixtures carefully and choose bulbs that match the wattage requirement.
Keep cords along the wall so rugs, furniture and foot traffic don’t wear them out. Don’t overload outlets with more than one power-hungry device at a time, such as a window air conditioner, blow dryer or vacuum.
Keep Pets Safe
Pets are loving companions, but many are also curious by nature. To help prevent dogs and cats from starting a fire, keep them away from the stove, lit candles, space heaters, lamps and fireplace. Consider using flameless candles, and if your pet is a chewer, spray cords with Bitter Apple, a safe taste deterrent for pets.
Install a heat-tempered glass screen in front of your fireplace and put up a gate at least 3 feet away from the fireplace to keep pets back while a fire is lit. If a smoke alarm sounds, gather your family members and pets and go outside. If you can’t immediately locate your pet, let firefighters know your pet is trapped, but don’t go back inside the burning building.