A house fire is one of the most feared catastrophes that can befall a family. Home fires in the United States are fatal to people and destroy precious belongings every year. However, there are some preventative measures you can take that will help reduce the risks of a fire in your home.
House fires can happen at any time of the year, though the risks are increased during the colder months. The Red Cross cautions that the number of home fires increases in the fall and winter, with more in December and January than in other months. House fires occur more often on the weekends and are most common in the early evening hours between 6 pm and 7 pm.
1. Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are designed as an early warning system in the event of a house fire. The batteries in the smoke alarms throughout your home should be tested monthly and replaced at least once a year. Setting up calendar reminders to check and replace the batteries will help keep your smoke alarms in working order when you need them most.
2. Heating Sources
Regular cleaning and maintenance of your home’s heating sources is an essential preventative measure to guard against house fires. If the heating system in your home is not operating properly, it can provide ideal conditions to start a house fire. Filters and ductwork collect dirt and dust that can easily spark a flame.
Portable space heaters can also present dangers during the winter months and cause more house fires every year than central heating. Any room using a space heater should be properly ventilated. The units should be kept at least three feet from furniture, drapes, and other combustible materials. Models with an automatic shut off feature will help to prevent overheating when left on too long.
3. Cooking Area
It takes little time for a small stovetop flame to spread into a dangerous fire that can envelop your kitchen and spread to the rest of the house. Never leave your stove or oven left unattended while in use. Thorough cleaning of the cooking area will remove food particles from the burner that can catch on fire when heated.
Dish towels, oven mitts, cookbooks, food packing materials, and even low-hanging curtains can easily catch fire if left on or near open flames or extreme heat.
Outdoor grills and fire pits pose additional dangers. Grills need to be placed far enough from the house and away from trees, bushes, deck railings, and other areas that can catch fire from an errant spark or excessive heat.
4. Check Your Clothes Dryer
Clothes dryers are large appliances that generate a lot of heat. Regular inspection and maintenance calls will help to keep the dryer working in the most efficient and safest condition. The lint trap needs to be cleaned out before each use.
Depending on how your dryer system is set up, make sure to clean out the ductwork and filters that hold in dirt, dust, and fabric at least a few times per year. Collected dust can get dry and brittle, making it highly combustible.
5. Cord Maintenance
We are more connected to multiple devices needing power than ever before. Most modern homes have an elaborate system of power strips and extension cords that hold the cables for phones, tablets, computers, and other products of the digital age. Power strips with power surge protectors will help to reduce the risks of overloading your power supplies.
Frayed cords and cables on your home’s other appliances also pose a fire danger if left unattended. Replace faulty or frayed wires and keep all wires and cords away from furniture and other potentially combustible materials.
6. Safely Store Flammables
Any flammable liquids should be safely stored outside and in their original containers. Remember to empty the lawnmower of its fuel at the end of the season and safely dispose of it.
There are also a number of household items inside the home that need extra care and attention. Common products like hairspray and shaving cream can be combustible if exposed to an excessive heat source. Keep them stored away from space heaters in a cool, dry space.
7. Candle Caution
The winter months are ideal for lighting a candle to create a mood and give off a pleasant scent. Candles are, however, open flames, and even a brief or momentary lapse of attention can have catastrophic consequences. Keep them away from flammable materials like blankets, scarves, and other flammable materials.
Never leave candles unattended by leaving the room or going to sleep when they are still burning. If you feel yourself drifting off with lit candles in the room, forcing yourself out of your comfortable position to blow them out before falling asleep is well worth the hassle to prevent a house fire that could destroy your life and/or your belongings.
8. Fireplace Safety
There is nothing quite like curling up in front of a fireplace in the middle of winter. To maintain safety while enjoying the warmth and comfort, make sure there is a spark screen or glass protection to prevent errant sparks from getting out and causing damage. Never leave a fire unattended. Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned periodically, depending on how often it is used.
9. Fire Extinguishers
A working fire extinguisher is your best chance at containing a fire in your home before it causes serious damage. Make sure there is one in the kitchen, garage, and any other areas in your home where fire risks exist. Everyone in the home should be trained in how to use a fire extinguisher so they can spring into action if needed.
Smoking remains one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and the need for fire restoration in Austin, TX, and the entire United States. Keeping all smoking outside will go a long way to prevent house fires and make sure all materials are properly extinguished. Before throwing butts in the trash, douse them in water to make sure they are fully out.
Preventing House Fires Saves Lives, Personal Property
Following these common-sense tips to prevent house fires can save lives, and your belongings and property. If you have suffered damage from a house fire, contact the fire restoration Austin TX trusts to get your home and your lives back together.