Safety and Sanitation: Home Fire Safety Tips

Note pad with a drawing of a house burning from the cornerAccording to the U.S. Fire Administration, it takes less than a minute for a small flame to turn into a major fire. Within a few minutes, a home can get filled with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames. With holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years Eve still to come in the calendar year, you will most certainly increase your usage of electrical equipment, lights, and outlets in the upcoming months. Additionally, your family will cook and entertain guests more often than usual. This increased usage of hot surfaces and electricity can put a home at increased risk for fires. Here are some important home fire safety tips to consider:

Install or update your smoke alarm. Choose the same day each year to change the battery on the smoke alarm. Select your birthday or a special holiday to ensure that you will not forget. There should be a smoke alarm on every floor of the house, including basements and attics. If possible, update the system with interconnected alarms – when one alarm goes off, the others will sound. Interconnected alarms will get everyone out of the house faster in case of a fire. Alarms should be tested on a monthly basis, and everyone in the house should be familiar with the sound.

As extreme as it seems, planning a family escape route is crucial. The route should be practiced on a monthly basis from every room in the house, so that all residents know how to get out. Practicing will also decrease panic in the event of a real fire. Everyone in the house – even toddlers – should participate in practice runs.

Depending on the size of your home (and budget), install a sprinkler system. Doing so will reduce property damage, injuries, and the chance of fatalities.

Know how to use the fire extinguisher. Extinguishers should be used when a fire is contained – like a fire in a wastebasket. Keep the extinguisher easily accessible and replace the gauge as indicated on the extinguisher. If you have questions on how to use the extinguisher, your local fire department is a great source of information.

Other tips:

  • When cooking or grilling outdoors, position the grill away from easily flammable surfaces, such as low hanging tree branches.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop. Be careful with kitchen items including oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, curtains, and towels.
  • Do not use damaged or loose electrical cords.
  • Avoid running extension cords under carpets.
  • Do not allow kids to play near open fires and space heaters.
  • Keep matches and lights out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Do not leave portable heaters unattended if they are ON. Turn them to OFF if you are leaving the home.