Fire Safety in the home is one of the most overlooked necessities for a homeowner. Most people think, “this could never happen to me” – until it does. Whether grilling in the back yard, cooking in your kitchen or using your electrical outlets, a fire can start anywhere, at any time.
Believe it or not, house fires are relatively common. In 2019 there were nearly 361,500 reported residential fires in the US. Of this number, there were reported 3,700 lives lost and 16,600 people with reported injuries.
The scary fact is it every two hours and 56 minutes; someone dies in a house structure fire. It only takes 30 seconds for a fire to become life-threatening.
Now you are probably asking yourself, how can I prevent this from happening to me? There are many ways to prevent you from being a number on one of these devastating National Fire Protection Association reports.
Install Fire Extinguishers
Having fire extinguishers in your home could be the prevention you need to stop a fire before it spreads. Multipurpose fire extinguishers are perfect for residential use. These can be placed throughout your home to make it easily accessible to every member of your family.
You may also want to teach your family how to use a fire extinguisher. All Fire Extinguishers come with a manual that includes directions. And many name brands have instructions conveniently placed on the front of the fire extinguisher itself. If you have a fire extinguisher but are unsure if it is operational, you should call one of Florida’s many fire equipment dealers to come out and do a fire extinguisher service.
When in doubt about how to properly use your fire extinguisher, it’s recommended to remember the acronym P.A.S.S!
Pull the pin
Aim the hose at the base of the fire
Squeeze the handle
Sweep the hose from left to right
Install Home Smoke Detectors
Smoke Detectors are the best way to alert you to smoke in your home caused by a fire. It’s recommended to install a smoke detector on every level of your home and in every room. This way, they can be wired together. When one goes off, they will all go off simultaneously.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends residents have their smoke alarms replaced every ten years for optimum efficiency. Smoke alarms that detect carbon monoxide are also highly recommended, essential if you utilize a wood fireplace or stove during the winter.
There are also smoke alarms designed for the hard of hearing. Instead of producing a loud beeping, they will create strobe lights to wake or alert an individual in the case of an emergency. It’s also recommended to have vibration notification devices, such as pillows or bed shakers, that activate by the smoke alarm’s sound.
Have an Escape Plan
Having an escape plan set up with your family is one of the most critical factors.
Practicing this plan with all the household members could be the difference between life, death, and injury if a fire were to occur in your home. Making an escape plan doesn’t have to be a dreary feat. Make a fun pamphlet with your family with directions and tips!
The NFPA has an escape grid on their website you can use as a template.
You can draw a map of your home and include different routes you can use to escape in the case of an emergency.
- Practice getting everyone in the home up and out of bed. Instead of frantically jumping up as our instincts would have us do, have everyone roll out of bed and crawl to their closest escape route.
- Heat Rises! Ensure your family knows not to stand up and run, and teach everyone how to stay low and crawl to the nearest exits.
- Teach your family how to check doors. If there is a fire in the hallway beyond the door, the doorknob may feel hot to the touch. If the doorknob feels cool, open the door slowly to check for smoke in the hallway. If there is no smoke, exit through the door, close it behind you, and leave to your nearest escape route.
- Teach your family members the importance of 911. You can report your emergency to 911 so your local fire department can come and attempt to put out the fire.
- Assign someone in the home and the designated helper for any infants, elderly adults, or disabled persons in the house. If the designee is unable to get to the person, have them exit the home and inform the firefighters immediately so they can take the proper action to rescue the individual.
- Most notably, never run back into the burning home. Fires cause a building to become unstable within the house’s structural frame. Running back inside could lead to potential harm to yourself. To prevent this, select a spot a distance from the home for everyone to gather, and wait for the proper authorities.
- Practice your escape routes with your family, so everyone is prepared for a house fire.
- Teach everyone in your family the simple “Stop, Drop, and Roll” Technique. This technique is used in case clothing or hair catches fire.
Practice Kitchen Safety
Did you know cooking is one of the leading causes of residential fires? Staying safe in your kitchen can prevent a fire from starting. Most house kitchen fires start during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. More than any other day of the year. See below for some tips on how to stay safe in your kitchen!
- – Don’t leave your kitchen unattended while cooking. If you must go, turn off your stovetop
- – If you have long hair, make sure it is tied up while cooking.
- – Be sure to wear fitted clothing while cooking, not loose clothing. This prevents your clothing from getting too close to your stovetop and igniting if you get too close
- – Keep your pot and pan handles turned towards the back of the stove if you have children in the home. This keeps them from being able to reach up and grab them.
- – Keep any flammable material away from your stovetop while cooking. This includes Paper towels, paper plates, oven mitts, or dish towels.
- – if you have any spills, especially grease. Make sure you clean them up right away! Grease buildup can ignite and start a kitchen fire.
If the fire is small, it is also recommended that you could use baking soda or salt to put the fire out. Do not use any other powders as those are the only two whose chemical makeup will not worsen the fire. You could use a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket as an extra precaution. The fire extinguisher used in a kitchen grease fire is a Class K Fire extinguisher.
When sprayed on the fire, this specialty fire extinguisher creates a soapy foam that sits on top of the oil or substance and quenches the steam vapors and the fire’s risk of reignition.
Check your Electrical Safety
Faulty electrical outlets cause many fires. Electrical outlets are used in every room of your home. From your kitchen appliances to your entertainment, you can be sure to see them all over your house!
If your outlets are old, you should get them replaced by a Licensed electrician. If you are unsure if yours require replacement, there are a few ways to tell
- If your outlet feels warm or shows signs of melting plastic, replace it immediately
- If you see smoke coming from an outlet, that is an immediate fire danger. Call an Electrician to replace it immediately.
- You should also replace loose electrical outlets. If plugs fall out, this is a sign of a loose outlet that needs to be replaced.
- Buzzing or popping noises coming from your outlet is also a sign of needing a replacement
These are some of the few ways you can be prepared for a house fire. With so many families devastated by these events each year, it’s essential to take the recommended safety precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe!
Being prepared, practicing and taking these simple safety precautions could save you and your family!