Fire prevention tips
February 4, 2020
The thought of a house fire is incredibly scary, but most home fires are quite preventable. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of home fires, that couldn’t be more accurate. Follow these 10 fire prevention tips to protect your family and your home.
1. Keep your kitchen safe.
The kitchen is the heart of every home. But did you know that kitchens are the most common place where fires begin? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Disclosure 1 Follow these tips to keep your kitchen safe:
- Make sure nothing flammable is near the stove, such as curtains, towels, cookbooks, etc.
- Clean your stovetop and oven regularly.
- Stay nearby when something is cooking on the stove or in the oven.
- Turn pan and pot handles inward so that no one accidentally bumps them off the stove.
- Keep your clothing away from the stove by wearing short-sleeved shirts or shirt sleeves that are close fitting and tightly rolled.
- Regularly clean your toaster and toaster oven to remove crumbs.
2. Install and maintain smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms are only helpful if they’re working properly. Make sure your home has a smoke alarm in the kitchen, in every room with a heat source (such as a fireplace), and in each bedroom.
- If someone in your home is hearing impaired, install smoke alarms with flashing lights.
- Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the “test” button.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year to keep them functional. It’s easy to set a reminder on your smartphone’s calendar to help you remember. If your smoke alarm starts chirping, that means it’s time to replace the batteries immediately.
- Replace the smoke alarms themselves every 10 years (the average lifespan of a smoke detector).
3. Place fire extinguishers in the appropriate areas.
You should always have a working fire extinguisher in your kitchen and in any room with a fireplace. Just remember to store the fire extinguisher in a place that’s far enough away from the potential fire source (stove, oven, fireplace, etc.), allowing you to easily access it if needed.
4. Inspect electrical cords, power strips, surge protectors and extension cords.
When it comes to these items, attention to detail is key:
- Be on the lookout for things like frayed wires and melted plastic—sure signs that the item needs to be replaced immediately.
- Make sure electrical cords aren’t trapped under rugs or furniture. Since electrical cords can produce heat, this is a fire risk.
- Purchase trusted name brands and highly rated power strips and surge protectors.
5. Maintain your clothes dryer.
Here’s how to keep your dryer safe:
- Empty the lint filter on your clothes dryer after each use.
- Regularly check beside and behind your dryer to pick up any stray lint or clothing (such as those pesky missing socks!) that may have become trapped.
- At least once a year, clean your external dryer vents to remove all lint and trapped debris (you may want to hire a professional for this task).
6. Use proper wattage with light bulbs.
Lamps and light fixtures should have stickers on them indicating the maximum light bulb wattage that’s safe to use. For example, if a lamp says 60-watt bulb maximum, it’s a potential fire hazard to use a 100-watt bulb on that lamp!
7. Use candles with caution.
Yes, candles make your home smell lovely and add beautiful ambiance, but they can be risky. Always stay nearby when a candle is burning, and make sure there aren’t any flammable items near the candle (like clothing, curtains or furniture).
8. Follow fireplace safety best practices.
According to the NFPA, home fires are more common between November to March when people spend more time inside and use heating equipment, such as fireplaces. Disclosure 1 Here are some tips to keep your fireplace safe:
- Never leave a fireplace unattended when it’s lit.
- Install a metal fire screen and keep it pulled together to prevent any sparks from escaping.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving your home or going to bed. Never go to sleep with a fire going in the fireplace!
- Allow ashes to cool off before cleaning them out of the fireplace.
- Dispose of fireplace ash in a metal container that isn’t used for anything else.
- Hire a professional to clean your chimney at least once a year to remove any materials that could cause a chimney fire. According to the NFPA, chimney fires are the most common type of heating fire. Disclosure 1
9. Grill with safety.
When you’re grilling on your back patio, deck or outdoor living space, make sure the grill isn’t too close to your home’s exterior walls or next to a wooden fence or deck railing. And never leave your grill unattended when you’re cooking.
10. Make sure you have the right insurance coverage.
If it’s been awhile since you reviewed your homeowners insurance, now is a good time to take a look and make sure you have the right amount of coverage on your home in the unfortunate event of a fire. Contact McGriff today for a personalized and consultative review. We’ll take a look at your options and find the right policy and insurance carrier to meet your needs.
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National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Home Structure Fires,” October 2019, https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Building-and-life-safety/oshomes.pdf(opens in a new tab)
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