According to the National Fire Prevention Association, in 2013, 369,000 fires struck families across the U.S., 2,755 deaths occurred, and there was over $6.8 billion dollars worth of damage to property. That’s an alarming amount of tragedy, however, there are precautions you can take to help prevent fire disasters and protect your loved ones.
To begin, check your home for fire hazards, things that can easily catch a flame and become engulfed quickly. Some examples include, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, aerosol cans and sprays, certain paints, and dried potpourris. Never keep any of these items near an open flame or any appliances that produce fire or generate large amounts of heat, and always store them in cooler places in your home. Additionally, never leave candles lit while out of the house or overnight and during the holiday season and, if you have decorations that use or generate light, make sure they get unplugged when not in use. This is an extra precaution just in case these products overheat.
Beyond checking your home for fire hazards, you should also check to make sure all your appliances and electronics are hooked up properly and are working as they should. Faulty wiring or a slight skew in the setup of these products could create a spark, which can lead to fire. Also, be on the lookout for frayed wires or exposed wires in power cords or electric lines, if they are close to your home. This exposure, especially in hot weather, poses the risk for fire.
Fire isn’t the only thing that can cause damage to both your home and your person. Smoke can inhibit breathing and cause serious damage to the home if not caught early. Leaving food in the oven for too long, cooking things on the stove at extremely hot temperatures, fireplaces, and wood burning stoves can all produce an abundance of smoke, and if you’re not monitoring them, they can fill your home, staining and deteriorating walls, furniture, and other housewares. It’s important to never leave anything generating heat or producing an open flame alone and to always follow directions when cooking, cleaning, or any other action that requires the use of flammable materials.
In the case of a fire or severe smoke emission, always leave the home immediately, or if you can’t, make sure to find something you can soak with water and place near the entrance of the room you are in and call 911. Never try to put out a large fire on your own, as many actions you take can contribute to the fire’s growth and make maters worse.
One of the best ways to prevent fire and smoke damage is to install alarms for both. Always place these detectors in several rooms throughout the home, including bedrooms and outside of areas where you and your family sleep. Check your alarms after installation and about every month after to ensure they’re working properly. Smoke alarms tend to be the most sensitive and go off often, even at what seems like a small amount of smoke. However, it’s important to never take the batteries out, as these alarms are meant to alert you of when smoke is present—it’s better to have them overly responsive than not work at all.
Additionally, replace the batteries in your smoke alarm around every 10 years. Fire alarms work differently, but will still need upkeep and checking to make sure they’re still functioning. If a prolonger period of time has gone by and your fire alarm system seems to be breaking down, make sure you spring to get a new one installed. These are two of the most important alarm systems you can have, as household fires and smoke damage is relatively common.
If you ever have questions, call your local security system provider and have them come take a look at your current systems, or talk you through purchasing new ones.