No one wants a house fire, but many people simply think it’s a matter of luck. Others don’t think about it at all. Fortunately, there are a few steps anyone can take to reduce the risk of damage from a house fire.
First, let’s look at damage reduction if a fire does occur. Everyone knows about smoke detectors, but many people don’t realize they can be damaged or run out of batteries. To prevent battery drain, purchase life-long smoke detectors powered by lithium batteries. Even lithium-powered smoke detectors can be damaged, so the CDC recommends checking them every month, and make sure to check them when you move into a new residence.
Buy smoke detectors that have an easy display and button system to prevent completely deactivating them if you have to turn them off when they have been accidentally activated by a burnt meal. Make sure to install smoke alarms where people can hear them and on every floor of the house. Consider, if you have the money and especially if you travel regularly, getting a sprinkler system to put out fires automatically.
Design a family fire plan and practice it regularly: The CDC recommends every six months. Ensure the plan includes two ways for each family member to escape from each room in the house and a place to meet afterward. Consider investing in rope ladders or other reliable ways to exit high windows.
Additionally, there are a few lifestyle tips that can help fire prevention. If you smoke, never smoke laying down: That increases the risk you will fall asleep while smoking. Keep ashtrays away from drapery and other flammable material, and never throw ashes in the trash without dampening them first. Keep space heaters in an open area away from flammable material. Watch the stove: Don’t leave food unattended and keep the area free of flammable items like towels. Never cook wearing long and dangling sleeves, and be extra careful if using a gas range or any method with an open flame.
Keep at the very least one fire extinguisher in the house. More is better within reason. The he speed with which it’s used will have an impact on the damage done and whether the fire gets out of hand. Take care to keep matches and lighters away from young children. You can try keeping them high up, hidden or in a locked cabinet. Young children don’t understand the dangers of fires and are therefor often the cause and the victims.
Be extremely cautious with open flames around the house like candles or gas lamps. As always, keep those things away from flammable material like drapes and bedding. Extension cords are always a risk: Use proper extension cords for the job so they don’t become overheated. Avoid extension cords all together for very heavy-duty tasks like air conditioning.
Holiday decorations are a major cause of fires every year. If you have a Christmas tree, keep it well watered. Don’t keep the lights on and in contact with a Christmas tree all day. Check all lights for damages to the wiring and remember that electricity and water don’t mix. Keep cords away from sources of water.
Be very careful with flammable liquids. Keep them away from sources of heat and especially open flames. Take all recommended precautions for a particular substance and keep it in an appropriate container. Pay special attention to highly flammable liquids like gasoline and paint thinners.
Lastly, make sure to check all the systems in your house that commonly cause fires. Maintain your fireplace properly and clean or have the chimney cleaned yearly. Be especially careful with clothes dryers. A dryer vent should always vent outside, not to another room. Use metal ducts and clean the lint trap regularly. Check all your appliances, your electrical system, your natural gas system, and heating and air systems to keep them in proper working order. Taking fire precautions may seem inconvenient, but soon they are quick and soon become routine; they are beyond worth the extra safety and security they provide you and your family.