Each year, there are over 360,000 residential fires in the United States. However, with every danger, there are solutions that can help mitigate potential disasters. Knowing about fire safety and having appropriate measures in place is critical to protecting life and property.
Causes of House Fires and Fire Safety Tips
Practice Fire Safety While Cooking
Cooking fires are among the most common home fires in America. They are most often caused by leaving food unattended on a stove or improperly cooking with oil (also known as grease fires). Summertime grilling is also a cause of house fires.
Be attentive and practice fire safety anytime you are preparing food. Never leave the stove unattended, even for a few minutes. Install a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and familiarize yourself with how to operate it. When grilling outdoors, keep the grill at least 10 feet away from the home and other structures.
Another major cause of house fires is the improper use of electrical cords. Too many cords plugged into the same circuit, frayed wires, and outdated electrical systems are the most common reasons that an electrical fire breaks out.
Don’t overload electrical outlets and replace appliances and devices with damaged or frayed cords. Extension cords should not be used for the long-term.
Homeowners who burn wood or coal to heat their homes should understand there are risks. Creosote can accumulate in the chimney and can ignite with sparks from the fire. Hire a professional to inspect your chimney and have it cleaned annually to reduce the chance of fire.
Fires Caused by Heating the Home
Furnaces that are not regularly maintained contribute to the risk of fire. A furnace’s exhaust flue can become clogged or damaged and catch fire. Electrical components of a furnace can also ignite if not properly maintained. Another common cause of a house fire is the improper use of kerosene heaters and space heaters.
Have your furnace cleaned and serviced annually by a reputable HVAC professional. Only use space heaters with an automatic shut-off in case of overheating and tip-overs. Keep your heaters away from draperies, furnishings, and other flammable materials, and never leave them running unattended.
Fire Safety Means Smoking Outdoors
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s website, one in 20 house fires is caused by smoking. Every year people are injured or killed in fires started by cigarettes. These house fires most often start in the bedroom or the living room.
Never smoke while reclining or in bed. You can greatly improve your home’s indoor air quality and your safety by only allowing smoking outside the house.
Other Fire Safety Essentials
In addition to practicing these fire safety tips, create an escape plan with your family. Determine proper exit routes and hold practice drills so you’re prepared in case of fire.
Place fire extinguishers in primary areas of the home to quickly put out a fire before it grows. Have smoke detectors properly installed on each floor of the house and test the devices monthly.