Better safe than sorry, particularly when it comes to keeping your house and your family safe. Most house fires are easily preventable if you follow a few safety tips.
This is the first thing a homeowner should do. Experts advise having smoke detectors in the kitchen and bedrooms, as well as in often overlooked areas, such as basements and garages. Test each device at least twice a year. Every fire alarm has a test button which lets out the alarm sound when pressed. If the sound is weak or you don’t hear anything at all, replace the battery. Fire alarms should be replaced every ten years as the sensors tend to get clogged with dust and dirt.
Most house fires start in the kitchen, which is rather obvious. Forgetting a pot on the stove or in the oven is just one way of starting a fire, but there are many accidents waiting to happen in the kitchen.
l Clean both stove and oven clean, as forgotten food residues can catch fire if the burner gets hot.
l Make sure there are no window curtains near the stove. If the oil in the frying pan catches fire it can easily spread to the curtains, setting the whole room on fire.
l Be careful when you use dish rags to pick up a pot from the stove as they can catch fire quickly. Better use oven mitts at all times.
l Do not let young children unsupervised in the kitchen and store matches out of their reach.
l When you move into a new house carefully check the electrical installation and replace faulty outlets or wires.
l When you see sparks coming out of the outlet every time you plug something in, have it checked by an electrician.
l Do not overload electrical outlets.
l Pay special attention to lamps and night lamps as an electric bulb can get hot enough to start a fire if it’s too close to flammable materials, especially fabric.
l If you have a fireplace in your home, make sure there’s nothing flammable in the vicinity and have the horn cleaned regularly.
l Be careful where you place heaters, especially old-fashioned ones with exposed heating elements.
l Remove flammable materials and make sure they cannot be knocked over by a child or a pet.
l Lit candles are perfect for a romantic evening, but don’t leave them unsupervised as they can easily be knocked over.
l Refrigerators are the household appliances that cause the most fires every year and the bad news is you can do little about it. Nobody keeps an eye on the fridge day and night. However, if it malfunctions or starts making weird noises there might be something wrong with it. Have it checked or replace it.
l Washers and dryers should also be high on your list. Regularly clean the lint trap.
l Dishwashers are also a common source of fire. Again, you cannot really know when the appliance might malfunction and start a fire, so it’s better to never leave it on where you’re not at home.
l Always read the instructions manual. They’re thick and boring, but they might contain vital information regarding the appliance you’ve just bought so read the manual before plugging it in.
You take all the precautions you can, but accidents do happen. Should anything go wrong, it’s always a good idea to have at least a fire extinguisher at hand to put out a fire quickly. If possible, keep a fire extinguisher on every floor.
Make sure you know how to use it as, in case of a fire, there’s no time to lose trying to figure it out. If your children are old enough, make sure they know how to operate it, too.