Eight easy ways to prevent losing your home in a fire.
Imagine: it’s Sunday evening, about 6 p.m., and you’re getting ready for the work week. Dinner is over; maybe it’s time to watch TV or make the kids’ school lunches. According to the National Fire Protection Association, it’s also the most likely time for a fire to start in your home.
In 2017, there were an estimated 357,000 house fires in the U.S., causing more than 2,600 deaths and $7.7 billion in property damage. The majority of fires happen on the stove top, when grease in a pan or paper or cloth near the burner catches a flame. Other fire dangers are space heaters, dryers, and storage areas full of old material.
What can you do to keep your family safe inside your home, and how can you do it without spending a lot? The answer is to take a few extra moments whenever there's a risk of fire.
You’ve heard it before (and probably pretty recently: Daylight Saving Time was just a few days ago), but it’s key to safety in every building: install and test your smoke alarms. It’s suggested you change the batteries every year, though newer smoke alarms are made to last about 10 years without ever needing a battery replacement.
Let’s go around the house and reduce your risk of fire.
Stay with your food while you’re cooking. A hot stove can easily trigger a fire if you’re not watching. When the timer goes off on your oven, make sure you turn off the burner or the stove before you check to see if the food is ready.
If there is fire in a pan, cover it with a lid, use a fire extinguisher, or even use baking soda to put out the flames. Water, sugar, and flour will not stop the fire, and can even make it worse.
Your clothes dryer should vent to the outdoors and use a non-flammable material like metal for the vent.
After each load of laundry, take a few moments to scrape the lint screen clean. A fire that starts in the dryer won’t spread as easily if there’s no lint to catch on fire. A clear screen
also makes for a more efficient dryer.
Do you have old stuff piled up in a garage or basement? It could be a fire hazard. Take the time to sort through it and remove anything that’s flammable or unnecessary, or at least move it away from a source of heat.
Keep gas and other flammable liquids sealed in durable containers and keep them away from heat as well.
No matter what size your home is, you need to be able to get out if there’s a fire. Design an escape route from every room, using two different exits if possible (for example, a door and a window).
Go over the escape plan with everyone who lives in your home. Make sure they know where to go and what to do if your smoke alarm rings. An annual practice drill is a good idea — maybe at the same time you replace your alarm battery.