National Fire Prevention Week: Safety Tips For Your Home

Far too many homeowners think it's a problem they will never face, yet more than 350,000 home fires occur every year. National Fire Prevention Week is observed this year from October 4-10th and serves as a reminder of all the ways you can prevent a fire in your home. House fires claim an average of 2,500 deaths and more than 11,000 injuries. Your home is more than a financial investment; it's an investment in your family's safety, and our real estate agents recommend checking the following during National Fire Prevention Week.

1. Test the Smoke Alarms

Make sure you test the batteries regularly and replace the batteries when the warning beep tells you it's time. Test the smoke alarm for functionality at least once per month, and replace your smoke alarm every ten years.

2. Fire Drill!

Have a family fire drill. Make sure everyone in the house knows how to evacuate the structure. Practice makes perfect. As part of your fire drills, demonstrate how to use fire extinguishers, escape ladders, fire blankets, etc.

3. Maintain Your Heating Sources

It would be best to inspect your heat pump, furnace, hot water heater, etc. every month. Look for signs of damage, gas leaks, etc. that can pose a risk. It's also advisable to secure annual maintenance contracts for these systems. This will enhance safety, and as a bonus, improve energy efficiency.

4. Remove the Hazard

That old gallon tub of grease by the stove? The paint thinner you last used a decade ago? Please get rid of them. If you are not using it now, you are unlikely to use it later. Removing it from the home reduces the risk it will ignite.

5. Clean the Dryer Vent

It is just cotton, polyester, and other blends. Wrong. Each year there are nearly 3,000 dryer fires in the United States. Almost all of these are because of dryer vents that are plugged solid with lint. To prevent this, clean your vent at least twice a year, and 3-4 times a year if you have children.

6. Maintain Electrical Devices, Cords, and Connections

If it's crackling and cackling, sparking, or smoking, stop using the device or the outlet. You should discard any damaged electronics and cords, and schedule prompt repairs of damaged electrical outlets, fuse boxes, etc.

7. Beware Careless Candles

Whether it's a birthday or a holiday, or simply a relaxing late-night bath, always use caution when lighting candles. Make sure the candle is properly secured in a container that won't fall over. Place these well away from any combustibles and always extinguish the candle before going to bed, going to another room, or going out.

8. Clean the Fireplace

Schedule an annual inspection of your chimney before lighting your first fire of the season. This will ensure that the chimney is sound and that creosote deposits haven't built up and blocked the stack.

9. Stay in the Kitchen

21st-century life is busy, but you should never leave food cooking unattended in the kitchen. Grease fires are a leading cause of home loss. Further, always keep an ABC fire extinguisher near, but not right next to the stove.
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