Fire Prevention and Safety
When was the last time you check your smoke detectors, aside from the times that you’ve burnt the bacon? Every 86 seconds fire departments across the United States are responding to a house fire. This equates to more than 365,000 house fires a year. Sadly, on average 7 people die daily from house fires.
While house fires are never 100% preventable, there is some good news. If you take a small amount of time to protect your home and family, you can reduce the risk of a fire and increase survival chances in case of an incident.
So here are some steps that you can take today to improve fire safety at your home.
Minimize Fire Hazards
The most common cause of fires in a house is unattended cooking. It is important to always be attentive when in the kitchen. Grease fires from frying can be especially dangerous. While it might seem that gas stoves have a higher potential for causing fires, electric stoves are more commonly involved in reported cases.
Heating equipment ranks as the second most common cause for house fires. If using a portable or stationary space heater make sure to keep a three foot clearance for anything that could burn. Turn off space heaters when going to bed or leaving the room. If you have a chimney, have it inspected yearly and keep a screen in place when in use.
Other common causes include electric malfunctions, smoking and candles. It’s always best practice to have an electrician handle any wiring issues you may have. Do not overload outlets as this can do more than just flip a breaker. Avoid smoking inside your house. Candles should not be left unattended. Keep candles away from items that might get caught in the flame, and extinguish candles when you leave or go to bed.
Check Smoke Detectors
Just by having working smoke detectors your survival rate during a house fire can increase by 50%. Make sure smoke detectors are installed throughout your home on each floor and in, or close to, each bedroom. Every month, use the test buttons on your smoke detectors to ensure that all of them are still in working order. If you notice that the sound is not as loud or no sound is present then change the batteries.
In addition, you should be changing the batteries once or twice a year. The best way to remember is to change them out when the time changes. Of course, if the smoke detector starts to chirp, then you definitely need to be swapped out those tired old batteries for a new set.
Know Your Fire Extinguisher
A fire extinguisher can be a great asset in case of a house fire; however, you have to know the right type of fire extinguisher to get and the proper way to use it. The different types of fire extinguishers are categorized by Classes A, B, C, D, and K. Each class covers a different array of flammable items. For most homes simply having a multipurpose fire extinguisher that covers Classes A, B, and C is sufficient. Class D is for flammable metals and Class K is meant for commercial kitchen use.
When it comes to using the fire extinguisher there is a handy acronym to remember:
Establish an Escape Plan
It is important to create an escape plan and go over it with everyone in your family. You should be able to get out of the house in less than two minutes. In a fire escape plan you should include:
Practice the escape plan with your family twice a year. Make sure everyone knows safety tips that are important in case of a fire, such as:
Keep in mind that around 50% of house fire related deaths happen at night. The smoke, which is toxic, actually kills more people in house fires than the fire itself. It’s easy to feel disoriented when awakened by the smoke detectors in your home so it is important that the fire escape plan is easy to recall for all family members, especially children.
Take these steps today to improve the safety of your home. Follow the three “P”s, prevent, plan, and practice,and you will be on the path to reducing your risk of a house fire.
If you have any question about how home insurance covers fires or want to go over your policies to ensure you have the right coverage, please give us a call at 417-863-1900. It is important to have a home inventory in case of a house fire, natural disaster, burglary or other unforeseen incidents. Check out our home inventory checklist to make the most out of your insurance.