With West Coast wildfires frequently dominating news coverage, it can be easy for those of us on the opposite side of the country to believe we needn’t worry about such things here. But the reality is that home fires can happen to anyone.
Here are some of the top ways you can help keep your family and your home safe from home fires:
1. Know where your fire extinguisher is, and make sure everyone knows how to use it
a. To use a fire extinguisher, remember PASS. Pull the pin, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
2. Test your smoke alarm, and replace the batteries when needed
a. If you don’t currently have a smoke detector of some sort, we suggest installing one.
b. We know they can be annoying when they’re set off by cooking mishaps, (there’s no shame in burning the popcorn accidentally) but try to avoid turning them off or removing the batteries. The National Fire Prevention Association reports that the fatality rate due to fires can be up to 90% lower depending on the type of smoke alarm.
3. Watch your cooking
a. Cooking is the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. It’s so easy to get distracted by something in our homes, and step away from our cooking for “just a minute or so”, and suddenly your food is completely burnt and there are small flames forming in your pan. b. If this is to occur, smother the fire with a lid if the fire is small, or grab your fire extinguisher/call 911 if the fire is too large to smother. NEVER put water on a grease fire.
4. Don’t leave candles unsupervised
a. Even though we’re all busting out our fall scented candles, it’s best not to let them burn on their own for very long. While they smell wonderful, from 2014-2018 they were the cause of over 7600 home fires.
b. To help prevent a candle fire, be mindful of any objects within a 1 foot radius of the candle, and blow your candles out when you start feeling sleepy.
a. If you are experiencing one or more of these and are concerned it may be an electrical issue, contact a professional immediately.
b. Avoid overuse of power strips and extension cords
● Persistent burning smell
● Breakers keep tripping
● Charred/discolored outlets/switches
● Your lights seem to dim for no reason
Some quick things to consider:
● Check how often you’re supposed to replace the type of fire extinguisher you own, depending on the type it might need to be replaced after anywhere from 6-12 years.
● Keep your important documents in a fireproof container
● If you’re grilling, make sure you regularly remove grease or fat buildup ● If it gets cold enough where you decide to use your heater, make sure it’s properly cleaned
If a fire is large or uncontained remember to make sure everyone gets out of the house and to a safe location, and to call 911.