A Fire Prevention & Safety Discussion
Who doesn’t remember local firefighters coming to your school and repeatedly reciting this fire safety mantra? Stop, drop, and roll was seared into my brain at a very young age, and I was confident that if ever my clothes spontaneously combusted, I held the secret to survival! Now that I have a few more years under my belt and my clothes have managed to remain flame-free, my concerns for fire safety have broadened. As the mother of a forgetful preteen and three fur babies, and as a first-time homeowner the topic of fire safety weighs a lot more heavily on my mind. I’ve researched and put together some tips to help keep my home safe and hopefully yours as well.
There are many things we can do to monitor fire hazards in our homes, here are just a few tips for reducing fire hazards.
Inspect! Inspect heat sources annually. Many heating and cooling companies offer membership plans that cover annual or bi-annual inspections. These companies will often include a discount on any parts and labor needed to fix possible issues found during the inspection. Some will even clean debris and replace filters, as well as offering discounts on an emergency or after hour call. Call around and see what the companies in your area have to offer. This will reduce fire risks and ensure your heating source is running efficiently.
Clean! Keep areas with heat sources clean and free of debris. Think about areas in your home that contain heat sources. Do you run space heaters? If so, are they positioned away from flammable items? Are they kept in rooms with minimal dust and debris? If not, ensure that the area is cleaned properly and that the heater is appropriately placed. Another area of concern is the kitchen. How frequently do you clean your stove or toaster oven? Forgotten food particles can ignite and cause a kitchen fire. Dryers should also be checked and cleaned regularly. Lint traps should be cleaned between loads. Also, don’t forget to move your dryer at least once a month to inspect the vents behind it and remove any dust and debris that have collected. This also pertains to your air vents, are your filters clean, and are your vents free from obstruction? Blocked vents will cause your heating system to work harder, which not only shorten its lifespan but can also cause several dangerous and expensive issues. Don’t forget to check outdoor vents as well, snow build-up around these vents sometimes gets overlooked in colder climates.
Control! Controlling the placement of flammable items in your home is essential. Be mindful of open flames! Candles add ambiance to your room but can become a fire hazard if not properly placed. Be sure to place candles on a flat and secure surface, away from fabrics. Avoid areas that may be accessed by pets or small children, and extinguish the candle upon leaving the room. Maintain your fireplace and ensure that fireplace sparks and embers are properly contained. For a more complete guide to fireplace safety, check out our blog post, “Is your chimney naughty or nice?” In addition, store flammable products away from heat sources, this includes cleaners, hair sprays, insecticides, and other items labeled as flammable.
Even though we’ve followed our prevention guidelines and reduced our risk of fire, fires can still happen and we need to know how to deal with them to minimize damage and injury. It is important to develop a fire safety plan and teach our family members fire safety techniques. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
I hope you found one or two of these tips helpful in reducing fire risks and managing possible fire incidents in your home. It is important to remember to teach fire safety to our children from a young age. Toddlers may not be able to dial a phone or recite their address, but they can be taught the sound of an alarm and the steps needed to keep them safe, even if that step is simply staying put at the sound of an alarm and not wandering into an unknown area. There are many materials online targeted towards young children; including, the stop, drop and roll song so many of us know all too well!
Fire extinguishers: Keep them on hand and easily accessible. The number of fire extinguishers needed depends on the layout and size of your house. However, in the least, it’s a good idea to keep one on hand in every area where there is a major heat source or fire risk, such as the kitchen, near your furnace/fireplace, and in the garage, which is often full of chemicals and combustibles.
Emergency Contact Numbers: Know them and keep an up to date list of emergency numbers somewhere visible in your home. Teach younger children how to call 911 in case the adults at home are incapacitated. List your address if your child is old enough to read it, it may help them recall it during a crisis, even if they have it previously memorized.
Develop an exit strategy or fire exit plan: Discuss the plan with your family and conduct a trial run. Make sure younger family members understand what needs to be done. Also, make sure they are aware of what a fire alarm sounds like.
Fire Alarms: Fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are very important fire safety tools. Most home fires start at night when families are at their most vulnerable. During the day it may be easy to detect a foul odor or to see smoke coming from another room, but your reaction time will be significantly delayed if a fire starts when your household is asleep, costing you precious moments.