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How to Protect Your Home from a House Fire

October 6th, 2015

One of my biggest fears is coming home and finding that my home has burnt down. Rescue crews did all they could to save the home, my pets, and my belongings. But despite the best efforts of local fire volunteers there was just nothing that could be done. I don’t want to mourn the loss of family members, pets, or think about the all the memories and photo albums that have been lost. What about all my hard work on my computer then I never got around to backing up to the cloud?

 

If you’re lucky and you’re home you may have time to get your family members to safety, but what if you are at work or visiting family for the holidays? Will the neighbors call it in before it’s too late and all is lost?

 

What if you are home and you don’t have time to call 911 to alert them of the fire because you’re too worried about getting your newborn child out of her crib on the second story. True story. We probably all know a loved one or community member that has been impacted by a house fire.

 

Yes, we have home insurance for a reason. We never want to think that it could happen to us, but it can. Not only is there a probability for loss of life, the stress of having to find somewhere new to live or rebuild and the emotional scars that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

 

On average, in the US alone there are more than 3,600 house fires each day (according to the U.S. Fire Administration). Continue reading to find out more about how to prevent a house fire, how to create an action plan in case of a fire, and alarm system monitoring that will protect your home and notify emergency crews if a fire occurs when you aren’t home to report it.

 


Prepare Your Home for a Fire

fire extinguisherKeep a fire extinguisher on hand and regularly check to make sure that it is in working order and not expired. Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home and near areas that are fire risks like fireplaces, kitchens, and garages.

 

Install and test all smoke detectors in your home and routinely change the batteries. Set up reminders on your calendar or phone to do this on a regular schedule, we recommend monthly. If you rent it is required for your landlord to provide smoke detectors and batteries for you.

 

You can install an alarm system with integrated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors so a central monitoring station will alert you and emergency crews if the sensors are set off.

 

Make sure your house number is visible from the street. A small fire inside your home may not be visible to emergency responders trying to locate your home. You want them to find the property before the fire gets out of control.

 

 


Practice Fire Safety

Use caution when burning candles, using space heaters, or heating your home with fireplaces or pellet stoves. Keep flammable items at least 3 feet from stoves, heaters, or candles. This includes furniture, curtains, bedding, carpet, books and clothing.

 

Candle Safety Tips

Always be attentive to fires that are burning and do not leave candles burning when you leave the room or your house. Also, keep in mind the surface you are burning the candle on. It’s best to use a candle holder or heat resistant plate underneath the candle.

 

Cooking Safety Tips

Cook safely, home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. Do not let a stove unattended while in use. If you are cooking with gas, be certain that you are maintaining the gas lines and equipment to avoid malfunction. Also, be sure that the gas is completely off when not in use, so a spark doesn’t ignite a fire unintentionally.

 

Tips on Storing Flammable Objects and Accelerants

Store flammable objects safely. Always keep them out of reach of children, but also take the time to educate your children about the risks of playing with lighters and matches.

 

You should store accelerants like gasoline, solvents, and butane in special storage cabinets and always in their original container or containers approved for their use. If you have a large amount of flammable liquids in your home, consider storing them in a utility shed that is not attached to your home. Storage areas should not be exposed to high heat or be near equipment that could cause sparks when used.

 

Home Heating Safety Tips

Home heating systems can often be the source of a house fire. Make sure that your heating system is maintained and cleaned regularly, at least once a year. This includes vent pipes and chimneys that cause fumes to back up into your home if blocked.

 

Fireplaces

In addition to you main source of heat, or in case of power outages you may use a wood fireplace as an alternate form of heat or as a way to create that special ambience we all love. Before you use your fireplace make sure you do the following:

 

  • Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned professionally.

  • Clear space around your fireplace. Keep any flammable objects like curtains, rugs and decorations far enough away so sparks can’t reach them.

  • Purchase a fireplace screen to put in front of the fire, this prevent sparks from flying into the room. Keep glass doors open while burning.

  • Clean out ashes and debris from previous fires and use a fire starter or dry kindling to start a new fire.

  • Make sure the damper is open and keep it open until embers of the fire are extinguished.

  • Use appropriate tools like a fire poker and gloves when adding more wood or shifting wood in the fireplace.

  • Use only dry seasoned wood. Wet wood can cause the fire to be smoky and is not healthy to breath in when you are inside. Do not use pressure treated wood or combustible items in a fireplace.

Wood Stove Fire

 

Wood & Pellet Stoves

These a great solution to heating your home or providing a secondary source of heat in the wintertime. Follow these safety tips for safe use:

 

  • Have your wood or pellet stove installed and maintained by a professional. Make sure the stove is vented properly, these stoves are notorious for emitting carbon monoxide.

  • Read the owner’s manual so you know how to operate and care for the stove.

  • Have your chimney cleaned professionally.

  • Only burn the appropriate substances. These stoves are designed to burn wood or pellets, burning anything else can be dangerous.

  • Clear space around the stove. Keep all flammable objects at least 3 feet away. If you have children or pets, keep them away from the stove as well as they could burn themselves on the hot exterior.

 

Outside Fire Pit Safety Tips

Who doesn’t love a great evening roasting marshmallows over a fire in the backyard? But just because you aren’t burning a fire inside, doesn’t mean there aren’t risks. They are a great outdoor gathering spot for friends and family but here a few things to keep in mind:

Fire Pit Roasting Marshmallows

 

  • Check with your local borough, township or fire department for local ordinances against fires or for fire pit regulations.

  • Position the fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house, trees, or other shrubbery.

  • Place the fire pit on top of a leveled stone, brick or concrete surface.

  • Do not use gasoline, lighter fluid or other flammable liquids to light the fire. Use dry kindling or fire starters to do this.

  • Don’t wear loose clothing while maintaining a fire outdoors and don’t lay anything around the firepit that would be a tripping hazard when you can’t see it in the dark.

  • Check the wind direction and strength before lighting a fire. Make sure smoke and debris aren’t going towards your home.

  • Position chairs far enough away to not get burned and keep a close eye on children and pets.

  • Only burn dry, aged wood.

  • Keep something nearby to extinguish flames in case of emergency. This could be a bucket of sand, a fire extinguisher, or a garden hose.

  • Never leave a fire pit unattended. If you need to leave or are calling it a night, put the fire out completely.

  • Safely dispose of fire pit ashes. Hot embers can reignite a fire.

 


Create a Home Fire Escape Plan

If you do experience a fire in your home, it is important to know how to react so everyone is safe.

Fire EscapeSome basic elements to a fire escape plan:

  • Make sure everyone is familiar with the layout of your home and can identify all doors and windows.

  • Visit each room in the house with each family member and identify two ways out of each room.

  • Practice opening and closing windows and doors to ensure they open easily. If windows tracks are dirty or old, it may be difficult or impossible to open.

  • Choose a meeting place outside your home for all family members to regroup in case of a house fire. This will allow you to quickly make sure that everyone is accounted for if there is an emergency. If someone is missing you can quickly alert firefighters that someone may still be inside.

  • Discuss and practice your home fire escape drill with all family members. Go over this once or twice a year to make sure it is fresh in everyone’s mind.

  • Practice navigating your home in the dark. Flames and smoke can make it difficult to see, practicing a fire drill in the dark can help you learn your home. If there are objects disrupting a clear exit path, consider rearranging your furniture. Avoid putting large furniture in front of escape windows.

 


Expect the Unexpected

Even if you practice fire safety, have your heating system maintained and take all the necessary precautions a fire can still occur in your home. Accidents happen. You can be prepared for the unexpected and react faster if your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors communicate with a home security system.

 

These smoke and carbon monoxide sensors can alert a professional monitoring station to unexpected activity. In case of alarms, central monitoring stations alert you of the issue and have emergency response teams dispatched to you home saving precious time to reduce the damage done to your family and your property.

 

 


If you would like to talk to someone about your fire safety, give Select SmartHome a call at 844-735-3285. We can discuss your home security and safety options. Take the first step towards expecting the unexpected and creating a safer environment for your family.

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