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Last week was National Fire Prevention Week. We have explored how we can help prevent wildfires but what about fires in our homes?

Did you know a house fire occurs every 86 seconds? Fires in the home are fairly common but there is much we can do to minimize the chances one will break out in our home and ensure we do not become a victim.

First, look around your home for potential danger zones.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States accounting for nearly half (47%) of all fires each year.

We can take precautions:

  • Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Before leaving home to run an errand or pick up kids turn off the stove and oven.
  • Remove clutter such as the mail and newspapers from the cooking area.
  • Move cooking utensils and flammables that may burn (oven mitts, wooden spoons, food packaging) away from the stovetop.
  • Place a splatter guard over foods, especially if you are using oil for frying.
  • When leaving the room and food unattended, use a timer.

Winter in almost here and heating related fires are the second-leading cause of house fires, about 15%.

  • Have a professional check your heaters before you have a need to use them.
  • Change ducting filters at the beginning of winter and again at the beginning of summer.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected.
  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from a heat source such as a fireplace, heater or space heater.
  • Never dry clothing on a space heater. If drying clothing near a fireplace keep it three feet away.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving home.
  • Turn space heaters off when going to bed, especially in a child’s room.
  • When emptying coals from a fireplace place them in a covered metal container and move outside, at least 10 feet from the house and wooden fence.
  • When using a fireplace always use a screen or close the door if your fireplace has one.
  • Do not burn trash in the fireplace.
  • Do not light a fire in a fireplace or stove with a flammable fluid.

Let’s talk electrical.

  • Only use one heat-producing appliance per outlet (crock pot, toaster, space heater, etc.)
  • Never use extension chords for large appliances (such as refrigerators, dryers, microwaves, etc.)
  • Do not place chords under carpeting.
  • Examine extension chords for cracks in chord or plug before using them.
  • Discard any appliance, lamp, clock, etc. if the chord is damaged or have a professional rewire it.
  • Have all electrical work done by a licensed electrician.

We love candles and have them in our preparedness preps however, we need to take precautions.

  • Never leave a room and leave a candle burning.
  • Extinguish all candles before going to bed.
  • Use candleholders that won’t tip over easily.
  • When using a candleholder, place it on a sturdy, level and cleared surface.
  • During a power outage place all candles in a glass or metal container as you may need to leave them burning for long periods.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down as the heat may cause the container to fail
  • Use battery-operated candles in emergencies or when hosting a party as you will be distracted.
  • Do not decorate a candle or candle holder with flammable materials such as a bow or dried flowers.

Smoke alarms

  • Install smoke alarms in bedrooms.
  • Install alarms outside each sleeping area.
  • Install on every level of the home.
  • Install one near but not in the kitchen.
  • Install near heating units.
  • Install in rooms with fireplaces.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. This enables all alarms to sound once one is triggered. This is a lifesaver, especially when sleeping areas are not in the same area of the home.
  • Test all smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button. Kids would love this as a job assignment.
  • For those who are hard-of-hearing or deaf, special alarms can be purchased with strobe lights or bed shakers.
  • Replace alarms after ten years. You can discover the year of manufacture by removing the cover.

Develop a survival plan.

  • As a family, create a diagram of your home. Map out two escape routes from each room. Visualizing in this way helps children to remember for a drill or if there is an actual fire.
  • Clear a path for your escape routes. For example, do not block windows that could be used to escape with furniture.
  • Designate an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home.
  • Inform your neighbor they are the designated meeting place if it is in their yard.
  • Practice your plan with everyone in your home twice a year. Practice both during the day and at night. Be aware children will rarely be awakened by the fire alarm so plan for a way to wake them or to get to them. A whistle may wake children so try that to determine if it works for your family members.
  • Hold a practice fire drill blocking an escape route forcing the family to practice the alternate route.
  • A closed door will slow the spread of smoke, heat, and flames. Sleep with bedroom doors closed.
  • Teach family members to test the door before opening by placing the back of their hand on the door. If the door is hot do not open it.
  • Practice escaping from a smoke filled environment by staying close to the floor.
  • Equip your home with fire extinguishers and learn how to use them.
  • When building or remodeling consider installing a sprinkler system. Sprinklers help keep fires small and contained.

Today’s homes burn hotter and faster than ever. This phenomenon is due to building materials used and the use of synthetic fibers in furnishings and décor. Synthetic fibers burn hotter and faster than natural fibers.

Yes, a fire at home can happen to you. With today’s smaller lot sizes house fires can also spread thru a neighborhood more quickly. Preparing will not be frightening to children if done in a fun manner and practiced often. Take a family night soon to educate the family and make needed changes.

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