Take the Test – Does Your House Pass During National Fire Prevention Week 2018?
National Fire Prevention Week starts this week and for good reason – most deaths caused by fire occur at home. To make matters worse, today’s synthetic furniture and furnishings burn faster. Most people have just 1 to 2 minutes to escape safely from a fire once the smoke detector goes off, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The key to keeping your home – and family – safe from potential fires requires a simple inspection you can do yourself. Use this test/guide as a starting point for identifying potential fire threats in the various rooms of your house.
Kitchens are one of the primary causes of home fires.
· Are curtains, linens and other flammable materials far away from the stove and other heat producing appliances? If not, time to move them.
· Do you and all family members know the location of the fire extinguisher in case of a stove fire? Install an easily reached fire extinguisher so all members can access and quickly put it to work. Learn everything you need to know by reading our fire extinguisher guide.
· Does your child know he should stay in the kitchen and monitor cooking food on the stovetop? If not, time to set the ground rules of cooking – unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen, according to the NFPA.
The garage can be a hidden source of danger when it comes to a potential fire. If your garage is attached to your home, the risk goes up.
· Do you leave flammable materials, such as rags or fuel containers, near heat sources? If so, move them.
· Do you store propane bottles from grills, etc., in the garage, especially during the winter when not in use? If one starts leaking, a tiny spark could blow it up and start a fire.
· Have you installed a fire extinguisher? If not, install one in an easily accessed area, then let everyone in your family know where it’s located. fire extinguisher guide.
The NFPA says working smoke alarms cut the risk of perishing in a home fire by 50%.
· Do you have a smoke alarm in each bedroom or sleeping area? If not, install one in each space immediately.
· Do you have smoke alarms in the hallway outside of each sleeping area. If not, install them.
· Where is the smoke alarm on each floor of your house? If you can’t find one on each floor, add at least one to every floor, including the basement.
· When did you last check your smoke alarms? Test smoke alarms at least twice a year (schedule it when the time changes in the fall and in the spring). Better yet, test your alarms monthly – tie the testing to cleaning days or other monthly events, and get everyone involved.
· Do your children know what the alarm sounds like? Demonstrate to kids what the sound of the alarm means and what to do if they hear it.
· Does everyone in your home close their bedroom doors before going to sleep? Read our recent blog post, Close Before You Doze Campaign: Ideas for Getting Your Family Involved
One of the leading causes of home fires during the winter is related to heating equipment.
· When did you last hire a professional to clean and maintain your furnace? If it’s been a few years, make an appointment to have your furnace inspected, preferably before you start it up in the fall.
· Have you installed carbon monoxide detectors? If not, install them to alert you if the furnace releases dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
· Do you see flammable materials, such as paint, paper or rags near the furnace? If so, move them to a safe storage location.
· When did you last change your furnace filter? Some furnaces require a filter change. Ask your furnace inspector how to change it and how frequently.
Some of the big dangers in living rooms are heat sources such as fireplaces, woodstoves, space heaters and overloaded electrical outlets.
· Do you use your fireplace each winter? If so, have the chimney inspected annually.
· Do you have a screen on your fireplace? Install a sturdy screen that stops sparks from popping out and starting your carpet or furniture on fire.
· Do you use space heaters? If so, make sure each heater is at least 3 feet from flammable materials, such as curtains, bedding, furniture, accessories, etc. Make sure each space heater has been tested by a qualified testing laboratory.
· How are your space heaters plugged in? Space heaters require high electrical currents, making it easy for them to overheat. According to a report by CBS News, space heaters can reach temperatures of 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Only plug space heaters directly into the outlet; never use power strips or extension cords.
· Have you checked your insurance policy related to using space heaters? Some insurance companies invalidate policies if a fire is caused by a portable heater.
· Do you always turn off portable heaters before going to bed or leaving the room for more than a few minutes? If not, get into the habit of doing so.