Home fires can be devastating and even fatal, but most are preventable. This year alone, 847 civilian home fire fatalities have been reported in the United States. As the weather gets warmer, we’ve created a guide of all of the steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire in your home.
Make sure your home is equipped with an adequate number of smoke alarms, as they are the best and most reliable early warning system. Be diligent in testing them once a month and replacing batteries once a year. If you want to ensure your smoke alarms are up to par, consider having your electrician install them. Purchase an affordable and easy-to-install smoke alarm here. For complete home protection in a high-risk area, you can also look into installing an automatic fire sprinkler system.
Never leave the room when you’re cooking, and keep any cooking areas clear of anything combustible. Keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward where they can’t be bumped, and children cannot reach them.
Grease fires are a common cause of household fires and result from grease overheating, producing smoke, and catching fire. If a grease fire occurs, remember the following:
- Turn off the heat, but do not try to move the pot from the stove as the grease could splash on you or the kitchen surfaces.
- Put a lid on the pot or frying pan to cut off oxygen to the fire.
- If the fire is out of control, the most important thing to do is call 911 and get everyone outside.
- Do NOT pour water on a grease fire. Water can cause the grease to splash onto yourself or kitchen surfaces and spread the flames.
- Do NOT fan the fire with a dry or wet cloth. This can also cause the grease to splash or fire to spread onto other surfaces.
- Do NOT use flour on a grease fire. While sometimes baking soda can extinguish a small grease fire (though not if the fire is too overwhelming), flour cannot and should not be used.
- Due to the chemical risk of contaminating your kitchen, putting out a grease fire with your fire extinguisher should be the last resort.
Electrical appliances, outlets, and extension cords will often emit an unusual smell when something is wrong. Here are a few more ways to determine if an electrical outlet needs replacement:
- Warmth or Heat: Use your hands to feel the outlet. If you detect any warmth or notice signs of scorching or melting on the plastic, replace it immediately.
- Smoke: Smoke from any electrical outlet is an indicator it’s a significant fire danger.
- Loose Connections: If any outlets are loose in the wall or they no longer hold a plug tightly (the plug falls out when plugged in), replace the outlet.
- Sounds: If you hear buzzing or popping sounds coming from an electrical outlet, turn off the power to that part of your home and immediately call a licensed electrician.
- Frayed Wires: Take off your electrical outlets’ plastic covers and examine the wiring. Wires can crack or fray from age, heat, or bending. Nails or screws can also pinch them. Call an electrician if you see any damage to the outlet’s wires.
Educate Children Young
Teaching children about fire safety and procedures is extremely important. Children should be educated about what a smoke alarm sounds like, what to do when they hear one, an escape route in the event of a fire, and a family meeting spot outside of the home. Most children are taught to “stop, drop, and roll” if they encounter a fire, but there is a lot more you can teach them to keep themselves safe.