A fire in your home is almost unimaginable. To have all the precious memories and life you’ve created there destroyed and taken away from you in an instant is heartbreaking. And although there are house fires that are out of our control, the US Fire Administration reports that 78% of all residential fires are actually preventable.
Below we’ve listed our top 12 tips to prevent a fire in your home. They are all easy to do and can help give you peace of mind.
Regularly Check Your Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors have come a long way in the past decade or so, now capable of detecting smoke and carbon monoxide, sending text alerts to your smart devices, and more. For as far as they’ve come though it is still important to routinely test your smoke detectors, even when they are hardwired into your home. Every type of smoke detector comes with a test button and it’s as simple as taking the time to press it. A helpful tip: set an appointment on your phone’s calendar every six months to remind yourself. And if you still use a battery-powered smoke detector remember to swap out the batteries at the same time you are checking the detector.
2. Pay Attention in The Kitchen
Over 50% of residential fires are attributed to cooking in the home. Although it might seem like it’s not a big deal to step away from the stove or to leave the kitchen altogether for a second or two, that’s how quickly a kitchen fire can start. That is why it is important not to leave food on the stove unattended. If you need to step away make sure to turn off your boilers or have another person in the house come and stand watch.
3. Clean Your Oven And Stove Regularly
We’ve all seen at least one comedy show on television where someone forgets something cooking in the oven and all of a sudden it combusts and flames are shooting out the oven door. As it turns out this is an incredibly unlikely occurrence. However, it is possible for your oven to catch fire if there is a build-up of food particles from extended periods of time cooking without cleaning. Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function. Make sure to take advantage of this feature every few months, or if you’ve cooked something that has spilled over onto the bottom burners of your oven. And whether you have a ceramic, gas, or coil cooktop remember to take the time to give it a good wipe down after you’re done cooking as well.
4. Don’t Forget To Maintain Your BBQ
Similarly to making sure your oven is kept in good clean working condition it is important to give your BBQ a good scraping and cleaning from time to time. Other safety measures you can take regarding your BBQ include routinely checking the propane lines for a faulty connection, especially at the beginning of grilling season and when you are changing out the tank, and making sure to position your BBQ far enough away from your home that if there does end up being a fire it isn’t able to spread to your house.
5. Remember Routine Maintenance of Heating Sources
There are a number of ways in which you can heat your home, whether it’s gas, electric, wood, or something else there are different potential fire hazards with each of these. If you have an in-house furnace and duct system like a natural gas forced-air system it is important to make sure your air filters are routinely cleaned. If you use space heaters or electric baseboards it is important to keep anything potentially flammable away from them, and if you heat with wood make sure to have your chimney swept at least every other year if not annually.
6. Exercise Extra Caution with Fireplaces
There is something very cozy and inviting about the glow of a fire crackling in a fireplace, but because it is an open flame in your home it demands extra care. Not only is it important to make sure you have your chimney routinely swept it is also necessary to dispose of ashes responsibly, allowing them enough time to be fully extinguished. And it is important not to leave any potentially combustible materials anywhere near your hearth or stove.
7. Have The Wiring in Your Home Checked
This tip is geared more towards people living in older homes when electrical building codes were not what they are today. Old knob and tube electrical wiring is particularly prone to starting fires. There are a few ways to tell whether the wiring in your home might be faulty; your circuit breakers are constantly being tripped, you have to unplug one appliance before being able to plug in another, even the lights significantly dimming when you turn on certain appliances can be a sign of a potential problem. If any of these are happening in your home it could be worth contacting a licensed electrician for an inspection.
8. Don’t Ignore Fraying or Chewed Cords
Damaged electrical wires are a huge fire hazard. All it takes is a spark from an exposed wire to have a real problem on your hands. When using anything with an electrical cord take a few seconds to check the cord over for any knicks or frays, and if you have a pet, for any chew marks, especially if you haven’t used the item in a while. Extra Tip: Never leave a plugged in and in use curling iron, hairdryer, or clothes iron unattended.
9. Clean Out That Dryer Lint Trap & Dryer Vent
Over 2,900 homes in America every year are victim to a dryer fire. This incredibly preventable fire source is as simple as making sure you clean the lint trap before every load. And at least once a year check your dryer vent to make sure it has not become clogged with an excess of extra lint.
10. Store Flammable Materials Properly
Your mind may have gone to propane tanks or gas cans at the idea of flammable materials, but there are a number of everyday household items that have the potential to start a house fire if stored improperly. Cleaners, hairspray, and even shaving cream have the ability to catch fire if stored too close to a heat source. Make sure to find a cool dry place for these items when possible.
11. Caution With Candles
Candles can be romantic, relaxing, or even necessary in the case of a power outage, but they are also a potential fire hazard. Whenever you have an open flame of any kind in your home remember to keep any potential combustible materials such as curtains, facials tissues, or paper away from it. Also, make sure they are set up high enough that little hands of children cannot play with them, and never ever leave them unattended.
12. Have A Fire Extinguisher At The Ready
A great investment for any home is a fire extinguisher. We recommend having one on every floor of your home in an easily accessible spot, especially in rooms with the highest potential of fire like the kitchen or laundry room. It is important to remember that fire extinguishers do have an expiration date. Manufacturers suggest that the average fire extinguisher has a usable life of 5-15 years. But testing the pressure gauge on the extinguisher from time to time is worthwhile. You are looking for the needle to fall into the green area on the extinguisher, otherwise, it will need to be replaced.
Taking the above precautions will help drastically reduce the chances of a house fire at your home. But if you do suffer a house fire we are here to help. The fire restoration experts at Strong Wall Construction can help put your home and your life back together after a devastating fire. If you are dealing with the aftermath of a house fire don’t hesitate to contact us today. (410) -505-7104