Home fires are a concern for people everywhere. Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show one home fire is reported every 85 seconds in this country. While they can occur any time of year, the risk usually increases during cooler weather.
Topping the list of causes is kitchen fires, but there are other sources too. Problems with furnaces, electric heaters, and fireplaces can all lead to a home fire, and each of these tends to be used most in the fall and winter. That’s why National Fire Prevention Week is observed in October.
This awareness campaign is designed to save lives by educating people on the common causes of fires and the steps you can take to prevent them. It’s important information for everyone to know, but especially vital for families to keep in mind.
Important Fire Safety Tips for Families
This fire prevention checklist will make it easier to conduct a safety audit of your home:
Monitor the stove: Don’t leave food unattended on the stove. Never leave the house while something is cooking, or go into another room without setting a timer. It’s too easy to forget about the food if you get busy working on another project or watching a television show. If it cooks too long and ignites, the fire can quickly spread.
Utilize a cooking safety device: If you are worried that an aging parent, especially one with memory loss, might forget they are cooking or neglect turning off burners, there are tools that can help. CookStop, for example, is a device you can install that detects movement in the kitchen. If there hasn’t been any in a determined amount of time, it will turn off the stovetop.
Keep the cooking area clear: Another prevention tip is to check the area surrounding the stovetop. Be sure it is free of anything that could drop onto a burner and catch fire. This includes curtains and kitchen towels. What you wear while cooking also matters. Loose-fitting sleeves might fall against the burner and cause the top to catch on fire. Blouses or tops with tight-fitting sleeves are usually better.
Install smoke alarms: Every level of your house should have at least one smoke alarm. Bigger homes usually need more. Make sure one is placed outside the room where you or your older loved ones sleep. Routinely test alarms to make sure they are working. Mark it on your calendar to change batteries at least twice each year.
Use space heaters with caution: We sometimes rely on small space heaters to warm up the rooms we tend to spend the most time in. If you or family members use one, be sure to read and follow the directions on the heater. That generally means to keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture, curtains, and other potentially flammable items. Turn it off before going to bed at night.
Keep essentials handy: Keep those items you need to make a quick escape, such as a cell phone, eyeglasses, and slippers, at your bedside. Also keep in mind that if your loved one uses an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, make sure to place it in an easy-to-reach spot by their bed.
Close the door: Fire prevention professionals also suggest closing your bedroom door while you are sleeping. If a fire does break out overnight in another area of the house, the door will act as a barrier and give you more time to escape through a window.
One final safety measure is to plan escape routes from every room in the home, and help family members do the same. Practice evacuating from the house just as you would in case of a fire. Do so on a regular basis.
Following the fire prevention safety tips listed above could potentially save your life or that of someone you love.