8 Tips to Help Prevent Fires at Home
Each October, homeowners are encouraged to replace the batteries in smoke detectors as part of National Fire Safety Month.
The U.S. Fire Administration estimates more than 3,400 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 17,500 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. It’s not a question of luck; it’s a matter of planning ahead.
1. Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. (Better yet, buy 10-year smoke alarm battery.) Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after 10 years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high-traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
3. Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances, follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
4. Use Caution with Alternate Heaters
Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least 3 feet away. Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread. Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
5. Equip Your Home with Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
6. Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
7. Teach Children About Fire Safety
Children under the age of 5 are naturally curious about fire. Many kids play with matches and lighters. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
8. Care for Older People
Every year, more than 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.
“Being prepared is imperative in preventing fires, but it requires planning ahead,” Kimbrough said. “Our Interstate All Battery Center team has helped countless people with smoke detector and other battery-powered home safety solutions.”
National Fire Prevention Week
This year, the National Fire Protection Association has declared Oct. 6-12 Fire Prevention Week, with an emphasis on preventing kitchen fires. According to the NFPA, more fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home.
Visit fpw.org for more information on Fire Prevention Week.