House fires are shockingly common in the United States. In 2016 alone, approximately 352,000 house fires occurred, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. This results in billions of dollars’ worth of damage every year as well as numerous civilian injuries. To protect yourself and your family, there are several steps you can take to decrease the chances of having a fire occur in your abode.
Watch Out for Candles
Many people enjoy lighting candles for the ambiance and to bring some gentle aromas into a room. However, you never want to leave candles unattended. Additionally, you want to keep candles away from anything flammable. You would not want to put a candle by a curtain or blanket. You also do not want to light candles before going to bed because you do not want to leave the candle lit when you fall asleep.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Ready
Most houses should have at least two fire extinguishers in the premises. It is recommended to keep one in the kitchen and one in another room in the house prone to fires. In the event you need to use a fire extinguisher for any reason, you should fill it back up immediately. In many cases, you can simply contact your local fire department to refill it.
Test the Smoke Alarms
Your house should have several fire alarms throughout the building. It is recommended to test the batteries once monthly. Everything should work fine, but in the event the batteries have died, you want to replace them right away. That way if a fire ever does occur in your home, you know these alarms will work.
Stay in the Kitchen When Cooking
Whether you are cooking a meal in the oven or on the stove, you should remain in the kitchen to keep an eye on it until it is finished. In the event you do need to leave the room for whatever reason, you should turn off the appliance. Fires can occur on both gas and electric appliances. Additionally, you should not have anything flammable by these appliances. For instance, you would not want to hang up curtains if your stove is right underneath a window. You should also never rest towels on top of a stove.
Have an Expert Inspect Heating Sources
Your house likely a heating system in place to keep you comfortable during cold weather. You should have an HVAC professional inspect this unit once annually to make sure it is still working optimally. It is your responsibility to swap out the filter once a month to ensure debris does not build up excessively. Nothing should be within three feet of your space heater.
Maintain Electrical Cords
In order to get a quote on a homeowners insurance policy, your house will need to first undergo a professional inspection. This will reveal whether there are any damaged electrical systems or cords. Even after this initial inspection, you should still hire an electrician to visit your home once a year to check on these cords. You will need to replace any damaged or frayed wires immediately.
Use Your Fireplace Responsibly
Sparks can escape from an open flame and onto a carpet. Therefore, you want to invest in a resilient metal fire screen to keep the fire within the fireplace. You should only have the fire going for a short period of time and then extinguish it before you go to bed. You should clean out the fireplace and the chimney periodically to get rid of soot and refuse.
Fires are devastating. You never want to contend with one in your home even if you have insurance. Follow these steps to stay safe.