Good neighbors are one of those things you might not appreciate until you have unpleasant ones living right next door to you. One thing to watch to ensure that you maintain your home correctly while keeping the neighborhood safe is fire safety.
There are many things you can do to keep your family and home safe from fire. The United States Fire Administration advocates that people work together to reduce residential fires. This is especially true during the winter when holiday decorations are up and when people may be using alternative heat sources to heat the home.
Whatever you do, learn these 10 steps to avoid burning down your block. Your neighbors will appreciate your diligent fire safety efforts.
1.Don't Be Stupid
The stats don’t lie. When home fires break out and fatalities occur, 65 percent of these fires and deaths happen in houses without working smoke detectors. Going further, about 890 lives could be saved every year if every home had a working smoke detector. It’s not enough to have smoke detectors in your home, you need to go one step further and change the batteries as needed to ensure that the smoke detectors work effectively.
“Cooking fires are the number-one cause of home fires in the United States. Many cooking fires happen from unattended food left cooking.”
2.Double Check Gas Stoves
If you have a natural gas stove in your home, a gas line leak could spell disaster for the entire block. Gas line leaks don’t happen often, but if they do, they are usually deadly. If your gas stove leaks natural gas out into an enclosed area, the gas could cause a large explosion. Have your gas stove checked for safety every year before you turn it on at the beginning of the heating season.
3.Don't Shoot Fireworks
Although the glorious colors and riveting sounds make fireworks exciting and memorable, these displays are best left to pyrotechnicians with the proper training and expertise to handle them safely. In fact, Independence Day has a much higher incidence of reported fires than any other day of the year. Almost half of these reported fires happen from home fireworks.
4.Stay Nearby when Cooking
Cooking fires are the number-one cause of home fires in the United States. Many cooking fires happen from unattended food left cooking. When you have food cooking on the stovetop or in the oven, stay vigilant and involved with the cooking process. This isn’t the time to wander off and become engrossed in a good book or movie. A serious fire could begin in less than a minute – if you aren’t nearby in the kitchen as you cook, the fire could spread out of control quickly.
5.Clean Your Chimney Before Using
When you use a fireplace to heat your home during the winter season, your chimney will be an integral part of the heating process. If the chimney builds up a layer of creosote on the inside, this tarry substance can block the chimney and it can also ignite from the heat of the fire. Before you light the first fire of the winter, have a professional chimney cleaner come to your home and clean the chimney to remove all creosote and other build-up from the inside of the chimney.
6.Unplug when Not in Use
When you have appliances that you do not use regularly, unplug these devices to reduce home fires. Appliances can cause fires in the home if they overheat or short out electronically. If you are not in attendance when the appliance begins to malfunction, sparks and shorts may travel from the appliance and start a fire. By unplugging your appliances, you eliminate the risk of the appliance shorting out and causing a fire.
7.Don't BBQ in the Garage
Although it may feel tempting to move your grill into the garage to give you protection from wind, rain or sun, the risk of grilling in the garage is significant. Because of the combustible nature of the grill, it’s necessary to light the BBQ in an open area. Never light a grill closer than 10 feet to your house or any outbuildings. Check the surface under the grill as well – for safety it should not be combustible.
8.Unattended Space Heaters
If your home has chilly rooms or corners, a space heater can be an effective way to add warmth and comfort during the winter. Unfortunately, space heaters are not without risk, especially if you do not attend the appliance carefully while it’s on. In 2008, space heaters caused about 22,400 house fires and more than 1,000 injuries. Most fires from space heaters occur when a combustible surface touches the heater – curtains, blankets or paper, perhaps.
9.No Fire Extinguishers
Installing a portable fire extinguisher in your home can help you fight a fire, which could save a life or reduce property damage. It’s important to use a fire extinguisher properly, however. If the fire is not small and is spreading, abandon any efforts of fighting the fire and evacuate the home instead. On the other hand, if the fire is contained in a small area and you feel confident about fighting and controlling it, use the fire extinguisher. For best results, place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, the basement and in a hobby workshop.
Most homes have flammable chemicals used for various purposes. Some examples of flammable chemicals include lighter fluid, butane, pesticides, paint solvents, propane, turpentine, kerosene, spray paint and nail polish. To minimize the risks of housing flammable chemicals, store them carefully, according to manufacturer recommendations. It’s also important to understand how flammable chemicals work. Flammable chemicals will not burn in liquid form, but the vapors of the chemicals are flammable. If the vapors contact with a spark or a flame, an explosion could occur.
Once you learn the many areas where you need to practice fire safety, you may have some work involved in bringing your home up to safety standards. The benefits are worth the efforts, though, because a fire-safe home will ensure that you and your family stay safe. As you work on fire safety, drop by the Red Beacon website for helpful fire safety tips.