A home fire can have a devastating impact on your property and put your family at risk of serious injury or death. In observance of National Fire Prevention Month, here are five important fire safety practices to keep your home and family safe. 

1. Check your smoke detectors.

One of the most important things you can do to protect your home and family from fire is ensure you have working smoke detectors installed in your home. 

  • Test them monthly and replace your batteries twice a year. 

  • Check the date of manufacture on each of your smoke detector units and replace any that are older than 10 years. Smoke alarms last only 10 years, after which point their sensors begin to lose sensitivity.  NOTE:  The test button only confirms that the battery, electronics, and alert system are working—not the sensor.

  • Be sure the youngest members of your home associate the sound of the alarm with a home fire

The New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety reported one of the deadliest periods of home fires in 2020, with eight people dying from seven home fires. The common factor? A lack of working smoke detectors.

2. Be careful when cooking.

Unattended cooking is the number one cause of house fires, accounting for 42% of reported incidents. NEVER leave your cooking unattended. Keep the area near your stove neat and clear of hand towels, oven mitts, and other flammable materials. Finally, be sure to create a kid-free zone around your stove.

Overloaded electrical outlets is a major cause of residential fires. They carry too much electricity, which generates heat. Over time, the heat causes wear on the internal wiring system and can ignite a fire.

3. Avoid electrical fires.

Electrical malfunction is a leading cause of home fires. To help avoid an electrical fire, take note of the following:

  • Have any electrical work in your home performed by a qualified electrician.

  • Replace any cracked or damaged electrical cords. Don’t attempt to repair them.

  • Don’t overload wall outlets and extension cords.

  • Never use extension cords with appliances; plug them directly into your wall outlets. 

4. Prevent chimney fires.

The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have it professionally cleaned and inspected each year to remove creosote build-up and ensure your system is in good working order. To help reduce creosote build-up, follow these guidelines:

  • Only burn seasoned hardwood that has dried for at least six months and contains a moisture content of 20 percent or less.

  • Keep your fire small to generate less smoke and creosote buildup. When building a fire, place your logs toward the back, and use kindling—not flammable liquids—to start the fire.

  • Before retiring for the night, always thoroughly extinguish your fire.

  • Use a metal-mesh screen or glass fireplace doors to prevent hot embers from getting out. 

5.  Plan and practice your fire escape route.

Every member of your home should understand what to do in a fire emergency. Plan a fire escape route that identifies two ways out of every room, in case one is blocked or dangerous to use. Set up a designated meeting space outside that’s a safe distance from your home. Practice your fire escape drill twice a year, keeping the following in mind:

  • In the event of a fire, you should feel doors and cracks around doors with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another way out of the room. If no room exits are available, lie on the floor where firefighters will look for you.

  • When following your escape route, use your hands, not your eyes, to guide you. A home that is under a fire emergency will likely be filled with smoke, making it difficult to see. Family members should wear a blindfold and practice using their hands to feel their way out of the home.

  • Remind younger family members not to hide in a closet during a fire emergency and not to return to the home after they’ve escaped to the designated meeting spot.

Home Builders and Remodelers in NH’s Lakes Region, White Mountains, and Western Maine

Area homeowners have trusted Cormack’s professionals with their home construction, maintenance, and repair needs for over 40 years.  If you need help maintaining your home and keeping it safe, our Handyman Services division can help. Call us at 603.367.8272 or visit us online.

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