Home fire prevention and safety tips
As a homeowner, fire prevention and safety should be among your top priorities. It is quite unfortunate that many people do not consider fire hazards before it becomes too late. When it comes to fire hazards, it is not enough to simply purchase the best home security service on the market. You also need to be mindful of what you are doing at all times. All it takes is a simple cooking accident or a child that is playing with a stray lighter to start a fire. In this article, we are going to provide you with ten tips about how you can make your home impervious to serious fire damage.
10 tips for fire prevention and safety
What you can do to improve fire safety in your home is:
- Install smoke alarms
- Test smoke alarms
- Create a fire escape plan
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy
- Provide space for your heaters
- Regularly inspect electrical cords
- Install sprinklers
- Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children
- If you have to smoke, do it outside
- Be careful with candles
It is also important to mention that fire prevention should always be your first step. Of course, you want to have systems in place if a fire does occur, but it is always better to minimize any risks in the first place. Therefore, you will want to be mindful of fire hazards at all times and take adequate precautions. What you want to do is form good habits such as always staying in the kitchen whenever you are cooking, not using the oven when you are sleepy, keeping flammable objects at least three feet from the stove, etc.
Now, this might all seem natural, but it can be very easy to forget that fire can start at any moment. This is especially true if you have recently moved to another home and have a lot of things on your mind. Even if you’ve hired one of the best moving companies and minimized your own workload, you may be in a rush to settle in your new home as soon as possible. By doing so, you may be prone to forgetting about the simple things, such as keeping lighters and matches out of reach of children.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at these tips in a bit more detail.
First things first – Smoke alarms
The fact of the matter is that no matter what you do about fire prevention and safety, there is always a chance that you will “slip up” somehow and that a fire may occur. That is why most states have laws that require homeowners to install smoke alarms in their homes. While fire may be dangerous in its own right, it is the smoke that actually causes the most fatalities. By having smoke alarms in your home, you will get an early warning that you need to leave the house lest your life is endangered.
The most important things about smoke alarms are placement and maintenance. This is the main reason why most people are not willing to take on the risks of DIY home security installation when it comes to smoke alarms. It is very easy to make a mistake when installing a smoke alarm, after all. Usually, the best thing you can do is allow professionals to install all critical systems (smoke detectors fall under this category) in your home.
How to install smoke alarms on your own
However, it may so happen that you can’t afford a professional installation. In that case, you will want to install smoke alarms inside every single bedroom, as well as on every floor of the home and outside every sleeping area. Of course, you will want a smoke alarm in the basement, as well. Furthermore, your smoke alarms need to be at least 10 feet away from the kitchen, as being closer will lead to numerous false alarms. The best position for a fire alarm is on the ceiling, of course, but you can also place them high up on the walls, as close to the ceiling as possible. If you have hearing issues, you will want to consider installing smoke alarms that feature either bed shakers, strobe lights, or both.
Testing smoke alarms – When and how?
Your smoke alarms can only protect you if they are in working order. Many people think that installing a smoke alarm is all that is required for fire prevention and safety, but this is a very wrong approach to take. Smoke alarms need to be regularly tested, ideally once a month. Furthermore, since most smoke alarms work on batteries, you will want to change the batteries at least once a year. While you are doing so, you might also want to remember to replace the batteries in carbon monoxide detectors if you have them.
However, due to how hectic our lives can get, it can be rather easy to forget to test your smoke detectors on a regular basis. That is why you may want to create a home security maintenance checklist and “stick” it to a prominent location. That way, you will have a constant reminder that you have maintenance tasks to do. Lastly, you will want to completely replace all of the smoke alarms in your home that happen to be 10 years or older. If you are moving into a new home, make sure to ask the previous owner when was the last time they changed smoke alarms.
While smoke alarms may be amazing at providing you with an early warning, you still need to know what to do if a fire breaks out. For that, you will need to create a fire escape plan.
Creating a fire escape plan
When a fire breaks out, it does so suddenly. Most of the time, you will not have much time to respond to a fire. In most cases, you will have under two minutes to vacate the premises. Since two minutes is an unbelievably short amount of time when facing a fire, it is very important to know exactly what to do if a fire occurs. A fire escape plan helps immensely.
To create a fire escape plan, you will want to consider the following:
- You need to have at least two ways out of each room
- You need to have an established meeting space outside of the home, a safe distance away
- If you are living in a multistory building, never count on using the elevator; always use the stairs or fire escape
- Make sure that all doors and windows that lead outside open easily
- Take note of any “secondary” exit routes such as collapsible ladders, windows, etc.
After you’ve designed the plan for fire prevention and safety, you will want to practice it. You will want to add “fire drills” to your security checklist at least twice a year. Here are some of the activities you will want to practice:
- Testing the door handles for heat
- Crawling to the exit while closing your eyes and covering your mouth
- Learning and practicing the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” method
There is no shame in safety
While this may seem excessive at first, these are the skills that may save your life if a fire breaks out. It is, therefore, extremely important to get them into muscle memory as soon as you can. If you happen to do these drills in broad daylight and when your neighbors can see you, you may also improve your neighborhood safety as a result. You should never feel ashamed for practicing something that can save your life, after all. Even if you get a couple of smirks from your neighbors, they will take note of what you are doing and will at least think about doing the same.
One of the most important fire prevention and safety tips is to keep a fire extinguisher handy
Sometimes, a well-positioned fire extinguisher can be all the difference between a safe home and a burnt one. However, you should take note of what kind of fire hazards are present in your home and choose your extinguishers accordingly. If you are uncertain, the ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher is always a good choice. You will also want to test your fire extinguishers from time to time by occasionally checking their pressure. You can do so simply by pressing the test button or by using the gauge.
Your fire extinguishers also need recharging from time to time. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to recharge them. You will also want to learn to use the extinguisher straight away. If you wait for the fire to occur to start “fiddling” with the extinguisher, it may be too late.
Lastly, you will want to position your extinguishers near any exit and well away from any heat sources. Furthermore, you want to have them higher up on the wall, where you can access them, but your children cannot.
Be diligent with your electrical cords
If you notice any electrical cords that are frayed or exhibit any bare wires, replace them immediately. Fire due to electrical equipment malfunction is the leading cause of property damage while also being the third major cause of all home fires. Checking for frayed/bare wires is extremely important if you have been trying to improve home security with landscaping, as doing that increases the risk of accidentally catching the wires. Of course, always turn off the power before you touch any electrical wires, be they frayed or bare. Better yet, hire a professional to do the repairs!
Sprinklers can help with fire prevention and safety
If you happen to be renovating, remodeling, or even building your home, you will want to make sure to install a few residential fire sprinklers. In fact, sprinkler installation is one of the most prominent recent home security trends due to the amount of protection that they offer. Residential sprinklers are capable of containing a fire and may even extinguish it far before the fire department has the chance to arrive.
Keep your matches and lighters where children can’t reach them
While we may think that our children are veritable angels, the fact of the matter is that they can be extremely inquisitive. A simple fact is that children (and many adults) simply love playing with fire. Needless to say, this is always a bad idea unless you are specifically allowing your children to learn about the fire under your direct supervision.
What you want to do is keep any item that is capable of starting a fire well out of reach of your children. Ideally, you will use a cabinet that features a child lock, but it is usually enough to keep your lighters, matches, and other pyro equipment on the top shelf. Some children, however, can be extremely resourceful and might find a way to get to the matches when you are not looking. If you have such a resourceful child, you may want to consider installing one of the different types of home security cameras to keep tabs on them. Do not consider it an invasion of privacy (don’t put the camera in their room, of course) but as a necessary precaution.
Here’s a quick statistic: Smoking is responsible for most home fire deaths (23%), according to NFPA’s “Home Structure Fires” report. If you can manage it, try never to smoke inside your home. Not only is smoking inside your home a security risk, but it can also create serious health concerns for the rest of the household. The best thing you can do, if you absolutely have to smoke or want to accommodate a smoker, is to position sturdy, deep, ashtrays outside of your home.
Be mindful of where you place your candles
Lastly, you will want to make sure that all your candles are positioned at least a foot away from any flammable materials. Also, never leave the candles burning when you go to sleep or leave the room. It is always best to simply blow them out and relight them afterward.
Those were our most important fire prevention and safety tips! If you have any further home security concerns, you can find all the answers right here at the Consumer Opinion Guide. Our expert home security articles are there to help you make your home as safe as it can be!