It’s estimated that around 350,000 house fires occur every year in the United States. These events can lead to serious damage, injury and even death, although most household fires are entirely preventable. If you want to make your home a safer place, install ample smoke detectors and a security system and don’t neglect these basic steps to protect your house from a residential fire.
Make Your Kitchen a Safe Place to Cook
Most household fires begin in the kitchen. First and foremost, keep a fire extinguisher in an accessible location and check it often to ensure that it is still fully charged and functional. Use extreme caution when cooking with hot oils, especially when using deep fryers, and never walk away from a hot pan. If a fire does occur on your stovetop, do not use water to put it out. Instead, use your extinguisher or try to smother the flames with a lid, fire blanket or even baking soda. Keep kitchen appliances clean and address malfunctions promptly to keep them functioning safely.
Heat Your Home Carefully
Cold weather prompts many to crank up the heat or plug in space heaters to ward off the winter chill. Not only are these methods inefficient, but they can also pose serious fire risks. Have your furnace evaluated and serviced at the start of every winter to ensure safety and efficiency. Stay warmer by sealing doors and windows and wearing extra layers instead of bumping up the thermostat to a high temperature. If you must use a space heater, invest in a high-quality model with safety features, like a programmable thermostat and automatic tip-over shut off. Always unplug all heaters when leaving a room in order to prevent house fires.
Use Caution When Dealing With Open Flames
A fireplace can provide plenty of warmth during the chilly months, but open flames are particularly dangerous threats to your home’s safety. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly, and make sure that flames and embers are completely extinguished after use. For wood-burning fires, keep kindling far from the hearth and be wary of floating sparks and embers. When cooking over an open flame outdoors, keep your grill several yards from the house and store all propellants in a safe location.
Operate Electrical Devices Carefully
Use extreme caution when operating electrical devices designed to generate heat. This includes toasters and toaster ovens, waffle makers, curling irons, blow dryers and heating pads and blankets. Be sure to unplug these items the moment you are done using them, and allow them to cool completely on a safe, open surface before putting them away. In fact, it is a wise practice to unplug as many electronic devices as possible when they are not in use. Not only can this help lower your energy costs, but it can also lower your risks of an electrical fire. If you live in an older house, have an electrician evaluate your home’s wiring for safety and necessary upgrades.
Developing some new, simple habits and making some relatively minor investments can go a long way in protecting your home against house fires. Be intentional when working with heat or fire in any setting and always use caution and care to lower your risks and keep your family safe.