Fire safety is not a seasonal issue – for better or worse, fire is a part of our everyday lives, whether as a mighty manifestation of the weather, a tool for heat or lighting, or a byproduct of our own habits (smoking, enjoying a firepit on the patio, etc.). According to the National Fire Protection Association, an astounding 77% of fire-related deaths are caused by house fires. Most accidental fires are caused by cooking, heating, electrical appliances/lighting, or smoking.
These casualties are entirely preventable when the proper steps are taken toward fire prevention and early fire detection. Read on for our expert tips on keeping your home and family safe this fall!
Prevent Fires BEFORE They Happen
The best way to avoid damage or injuries by house fire is to never have one to begin with! While that sounds self explanatory, there are actually a multitude of things we do each day that raise our risk. Thankfully, with knowledge and dedication, we can cultivate better habits!
- Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of children’s reach
- Clean your chimney and dryer lint trap regularly
- Stay in the same room as any open flame, smoldering tinder (ex. a freshly extinguished candle), or plugged-in heating appliances. All these items can lead to a house fire if left unattended. Common scenarios include cooking/grease fires, malfunctioning appliances, and ill-placed candles that catch curtains on fire. To avoid these accidents, do not leave the room or house until all flames have been fully extinguished and all unnecessary appliances and lights are unplugged.
- Only smoke outside and away from flammable objects, and do not discard a cigarette until it is fully extinguished.
Detect Fires Early
Sometimes accidents happen despite our best efforts. In this case, early fire detection can give us time to contain them or escape from them before it’s too late.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home. Remember to regularly replace their batteries and test them once a month!
- Consider an advanced fire detection system that also picks up rapid temperature increases. Interconnected alarms are immensely helpful as they will all sound even if just one is triggered.
- Keep fire extinguishers close at hand. You may be able to stop a small fire in its tracks! (However, if the fire is not easily extinguishable, do NOT continue trying to fight it and focus on escaping!)
Make an Escape Plan
If all else fails, the most important thing is for you and your loved ones to escape unharmed. House fires spread fast, and in the moment, panic may cloud your decision-making. For these reasons, it’s best to determine and practice your escape plan BEFORE you need it.
- Create a family fire escape plan and share it with all members of your household. Everyone should be familiar with multiple escape routes in case one is blocked, agree on a predetermined meeting place, and understand that no one is to reenter the building to retrieve personal belongings. (Again, fires spread rapidly – a matter of seconds could make the difference in whether a room is escapable.)
- If there are individuals incapable of escaping by themselves (such as elderly parents, babies/toddlers, or animals) the plan should also outline who is responsible for helping to evacuate those individuals.
- Teach children (and remind yourself!) to stop, drop, and roll should your hair or clothing catch fire. Fire feeds off oxygen, so cut off its supply!
- In the event a fire starts when you’re not home (but may have vulnerable individuals or animals at home by themselves), invest in rescue stickers to place on your doors/windows that let firefighters know there are loved ones inside who need help!
As you can see, there are multiple levels of fire safety to understand and incorporate into your daily routine, but the payoff of your home and family being safe is well-worth it! If you’d like more advice or information on the best fire detection systems for your home, we’re proud to have fire safety experts and even a former firefighter on our staff! Give us a call at 615-422-5276 – we’d love to be a resource.