No one expects to have a fire in their home, yet U.S. fire departments respond to a fire call every 24 seconds. In 2017, there were nearly 372,000 home fires, resulting in over 2,500 deaths and nearly $8 billion in damage. In recognition of Fire Prevention Week, here are some important tips for protecting your home and family from fire.

1. Test your smoke detectors.

In the event of a home fire, your smoke detector is your first line of defense. For this reason, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends testing your smoke detectors monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year. Note that smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years. To make sure your smoke detectors are properly placed in your home, review the NFPA’s recommendations.

2. Heat your home safely.

Follow these heating safety tips to help reduce your risk of a home fire:

  • Keep flammable objects (furniture, curtains, rugs, decorations, etc.) at least three feet away from any heating equipment (wood stove, fireplace, space heater, etc.)

  • Ensure young children and pets are always supervised in the presence of any home heating equipment.

  • If using a space heater, keep it on a flat, level surface in a low-traffic area of your home. Plug the unit directly into an outlet (avoid using an extension cord) and don’t use it if the plug is damaged, worn, or broken.

  • Before leaving a room or going to sleep, turn off any space heaters you’re using to warm your home.

  • Get your heating system inspected by a professional each year to ensure it’s operating properly.

3. Check your electric cords.

Most of us don’t think about the electric cords we use to power our homes. However, roughly 2,000 fires each year are caused by damaged electric cords, overloaded plugs, or short circuits. To keep your home and family safe:

  • Throw away any worn or damaged electric cords.

  • Only purchase cords and powerstrips that are certified by an independent testing lab.

  • Avoid using extension cords whenever possible.

  • Don’t overload outlets or powerstrips.

  • When using appliances or tools outside, only use electric cords labeled “for outdoor use.”

4. Inspect old electrical wiring.

If you have an older home, your electrical wiring may be putting your safety at risk. Here are some things to look out for. However, it’s probably a good idea to have a professional properly assess the condition of your wiring to ensure it can handle your electrical load. Questions? Contact the Cormack team.

5. Cook with caution.

According to the NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. And of these fires, unattended cooking is the prime factor. So, if you have to leave the room—even for a few seconds—be sure to turn off your stove. Here are some additional tips for preventing home fires:

  • Whether your simmering, boiling, roasting, or baking, always use a timer to remind you to check on your food.

  • Keep flammable items (oven mitts, dish towels, recipe books, wooden utensils, food packaging, etc.) away from your stovetop.

  • Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from your cooking source (stovetop, oven, slow cooker, instapot, etc.)

6. Keep an eye on your candles.

Candles can add a lot of beauty and ambiance to your home, especially around the holidays. But they can also present a safety risk. From 2012 to 2016, candles caused an average of 8,200 annual home fires in the U.S., resulting in 80 deaths, nearly 800 injuries, and $264 million in property damage. Here are some important safety tips about burning candles:

  • Place candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface and away from anything flammable, including curtains, bedding, towels, decorations, papers, and books. 

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.

  • Use sturdy, heat-resistant candle holders. 

  • Consider using battery-operated LED candles instead. 

7. Create a home fire escape plan.

To ensure your family’s safety in the event of a home fire, develop an escape plan (including a safe outdoor meeting spot) that everyone can understand. Use a home floor plan to help identify two ways out of every room. For a free fire escape planning tool and more, visit the NFPA website.

8. Understand the limitations of portable fire extinguishers.

The NFPA notes that portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by extinguishing or containing small fires while awaiting the arrival of the fire department. However, portable extinguishers have limitations and because a fire can spread quickly, your number one priority should be safely exiting your home. Visit the NFPA website for further information.

Keep Your Home and Family Safe with a Home Maintenance Assessment in NH

To help identify any home issues before they become safety concerns, consider scheduling a Home Maintenance Assessment with the Cormack team. We can help identify problems that would go unnoticed to the untrained eye, protecting the value of your home and the safety of your family. Contact us to learn more.

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