Approximately 3,400 lives are lost to house fires every year in this country. In the event of a fire, injuries and deaths are preventable with some safeguards in place. Here are 5 fire safety tips for preventing and surviving a house fire.
1. Fire Safety Tips Start with Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are required by most local building departments. They are affordable, so there is no excuse not to have them installed. You can either hire an electrician to install hard-wired, electrically operated smoke detectors, or you can install battery-operated detectors yourself.
Place smoke detectors in every bedroom, near the kitchen, and in the garage, and make sure there is at least one alarm on every floor. Test the alarms monthly by pushing the test button. The alarm will sound if it’s working properly. If the battery is low, the alarm will chirp. Always have batteries on-hand and replace them annually or when you hear the chirping sound.
2. Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are a must. Knowing how to use one is also important. These are essential for putting out small, localized fires. Do not rely on a fire extinguisher for putting out a large fire. If the fire takes more than 5 seconds to put out, leave the house quickly and call 911.
Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher. It is also recommended to have one on each floor of the house and in a garage that is attached to the house. Fire extinguishers don’t last forever. They have an expiration date, so you need to replace them periodically.
3. Practicing Fire Safety Tips
Remember the fire drills you had to do in school as a kid? Do the same thing with your household. Make sure everyone knows how to safely exit the home from any room. Draw a plan of the house that clearly shows every window, every exterior door, and every fire extinguisher location. Go over the plan with everyone, especially the kids, and practice getting out within 30 to 60 seconds.
Escape ladders are also recommended for multi-level homes. These rope style ladders can be easily stowed near second-floor bedroom windows. Practice using the ladders during your fire drills.
4. Clean Dryer Vents
The lint that builds up in clothes dryers is one of the leading causes of house fires. Make sure you clean the lint filter after every single load of laundry and periodically check and clean out the vent pipe. A blockage can cause a buildup of heat and spark a fire. Do not run the clothes dryer when you are not home or overnight while you’re sleeping.
5. Service Chimneys and Flues Annually
Have your fireplace chimney professionally swept annually to remove creosote buildup and debris. This improves the airflow to prevent chimney fires. It also helps reveal any holes in the brick or metal liner where flames could escape and ignite wood framing.
This goes for heating equipment flues as well. You may already have an annual maintenance plan in place for your furnace or boiler with your oil or gas supplier. This is a good measure of prevention. However, the fuel supplier does not generally check the condition of the flue. While the chimney sweep is inspecting your fireplace, it is worth it to have the company also check and clean the heating equipment flue.