House fires are fairly common. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that in 2017, there were 379,000 residential fires in the United States, which is up 5% from the year before. With the holidays just around the corner, here are 5 important fire safety tips to keep you home and family safe throughout the holiday season and beyond.
1)Install Smoke Detectors:
The importance of smoke alarms cannot be overstated. Simply put, if there’s a fire in your home, fire alarms alert you and give you a chance to get out of the house safely.
Smoke alarms can also alert you to other abnormal airborne combustion gasses often invisible to the naked eye, including emissions from both blazing and smoldering fires. Install a suitable number of smoke alarms throughout your home and make sure to change the batteries once a year.
2) Kitchen Safety
According to the NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of residential fires. There are more fires on Thanksgiving and Christmas than any other day of the year.
To stay safe in the kitchen, never leave cooking food unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the stove. Don’t wear loose clothing or long, dangling jewelry, which might ignite if you bend over the range.
Be extra careful if there are children in the home. Keep all pot and skillet handles turned inward so a child can’t reach up and grab a hot pot.
If a grease fire ignites, never use water to put it out. The water will turn to steam and cause severe burns. Instead, smother the fire using a fire extinguisher, pot lid, or fire blanket.
3) Install Fire Extinguishers
You should have a fire extinguisher on every level of your home, and an extra one in the kitchen. Install your fire extinguishers high on the wall and away from children.
You also need to know how to use your fire extinguishers. Read the directions and become familiar with how they operate since you won’t have time to learn how to use them when a fire breaks out.
If you have to use your fire extinguisher, remember to aim low (toward the base of the fire), squeeze the lever slowly and evenly, and sweep back and forth.
4) Heating Safety
If you are operating a space heater or other heating appliance in any room, keep at least a three-foot perimeter around space heaters, stoves and fireplaces. Ensure this area is free from all paper, clothing, bedding, carpets etc.
Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Space heaters must be switched off when leaving the room or home
Space heaters should only be used on a level, hard surface that isn’t combustible. Ensure that children and pets cannot approach the heater when you’re not looking.
5) Be Extra Careful During Holidays
Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas have the highest number of residential fires. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that 1 out of every 32 reported Christmas fires resulted in a death, compared to 1 death out of every 143 fires the rest of the year.
Christmas Tree Safety
One of the reasons for the higher rate of fatalities is Christmas trees, which are highly flammable due to the sap content. The NFPA reports that lighting or electrical equipment around the tree causes 43% of Christmas tree fires.
If you put up a Christmas tree, make sure you keep it well watered. This means watering every day. If the water level falls below the stump even once, a seal will form over the cut and no more water will be absorbed. Dried-out trees can catch fire within seconds and can catch walls or curtains on fire in less than a minute.
Inspect Holiday Lighting
Holiday lighting is another concern. Make sure your holiday lights are in good condition with no loose connections, fraying cords, or cracked lamps and never use multiple extension cords with lighting.
Many people like to use candles to add warmth and ambiance to their home during the winter holidays. However, the III reports that candles cause 11% of home fires in December and 10% of fires in November and January.
To reduce the risk of fire, keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and never use them to light or decorate a Christmas tree. If you love the warm glow candles give your home, use battery-operated flameless candles, which are much safer.
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