October is National Fire Safety Month, so it’s a great time to think about how you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home from fires.
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe in your home is to install and maintain smoke alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoke alarms should be placed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. Interconnected alarms are recommended, so that if one alarm goes off, they all go off, alerting everyone inside the home to the potential danger. You should replace your smoke alarm every ten years, and check/replace batteries as necessary at least twice a year.
Cooking accidents account for nearly 50% of all home fires, so it’s especially important to be mindful when cooking, particularly when cooking with oil, and to make sure you turn off your cooking appliances after you have finished using them. Never leave your running cooking appliances unattended.
Another leading cause of fires are space heaters. Keep your space heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn – including people. Be sure to place the heater on a solid, flat surface. Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection, and an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
Maintaining a clean chimney is also vitally important. If your home has one, be sure to bring in a chimney pro to inspect it at least once a year, and never use any accelerants such as gasoline or kerosene in your fireplaces and stoves. Use only wood and kindling.
Be sure to have at least two full fire extinguishers in your home at all times that can be accessed on all levels of your home. It is important to regularly inspect your fire extinguishers for any signs of corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles. Fire extinguishers last about 10-12 years; after that time period they should be replaced.
You may also want to have an emergency exit plan for your household. Make sure you have at least two unobstructed exits, and discuss evacuation plans with your family members in the case of a fire.
With these tips you can more effectively protect yourself and any others who may be in your home – and perhaps prevent a home fire altogether.