October is Fire Prevention Month and the perfect time to talk with your family about the importance of fire safety. Some important items to discuss are testing fire alarms, changing the batteries or upgrading to 10-year sealed battery alarms, using a fire extinguisher, and planning an evacuation route.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires are the cause the untimely death of roughly 3,400 people each year in the United States. That's why it's crucial for homeowners to take the appropriate precautions to keep their families safe.
Celebrating National Fire Prevention Month
While it may not be the most glamorous holiday to celebrate, it is an important one. Gather with your family or roommates and discuss best safety practices to prevent fires as well as what to do in the event a fire occurs. Be sure to discuss where fire extinguishers are located and check that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
Additionally, you’ll want to design an evacuation plan. Your plan should include two evacuation routes from every room as well as a meeting place outside the home. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this plan regularly and discuss any changes that may occur with the route.
Fire Prevention and Safety Tips
Smoke detectors - Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the house including all bedrooms. Remember to test the alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
Fire extinguishers - Keep fire extinguishers easily accessible in your home, especially in the kitchen, and make sure everybody knows how to use them.
Fireplace safety - Ensure everyone in your home, especially children, understand fireplace safety. If you have small children or pets, keep toys aware from the fireplace and place a safety gate around it. Always put the fire out completely before going to bed or leaving the house. In addition, have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected regularly.
Holiday decorations - Replace candles with LED or battery-operated lights. Be mindful and do not overload electrical outlets or use frayed extension cords or wires. Do not keep flammable decorations near outlets or other fire hazards, especially Christmas trees.
Storage Safety – Make sure you keep all flammable materials a safe distance from any electrical equipment or heat sources like space heaters.
Gas - You should never be able to smell gas in your home, even if you have gas appliances or heat. Make sure that all gas appliances are completely off when not in use. If you believe you smell gas, call your gas company and exit the home immediately until it is safe to return.
Kitchen hazards - Cooking is a common cause of house fires, so it's crucial to never take your eye off a stove or oven when using one. If a fire should start in your kitchen, baking soda can be an easy way to extinguish grease fires, and remember to never use water to put out a grease fire!
Know how and when to call for safety - Teach your kids when and how to dial 911 to call for help and remind them to only do so once they are safely outside and away from the fire.
Home Maintenance Inspection to Help Prevent Fires
A home Maintenance Inspection (HMI) is like a yearly check-up at the doctor. It can help identify potential fire hazards in the home and provide recommendations on how to correct them before they become a serious problem. By identifying and addressing these hazards, homeowners can help reduce the risk of fire in their home. In addition, HMI can help ensure that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in proper working order.
Q&A: Fire Safety
Does Home Insurance Cover Fires?
Most home insurance policies include fire damage, but it is important to confirm that it is included in your specific policy. Homes are a very large investment and homeowners should make sure they are fully covered in case of a fire.
How Do I Use a Fire Extinguisher?
- Pull the pin from the handle while making sure the nozzle faces away from you. This releases the locking mechanism.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire - never aim high!
- Slowly and evenly squeeze the lever while sweeping the nozzle from side to side.