Make fire prevention an ongoing task in your home to keep your family safe. No one likes to think about the worst things that can happen, but more than 350,000 residential fires occur each year nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. By incorporating regular inspections, developing safe habits and talking about fire safety with your kids, you’ll be doing everything you can to prevent damage or a tragedy.
Install and Test Alarms
Make sure you have the proper number of smoke alarms. The American Red Cross recommends hard-wired, interconnected alarms with battery backup throughout your home so if one alarm sounds, they all do. You should have an alarm on each level of your home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Building codes require this of new homes, but if your house is older, you may need to do some installation. Run a test on your alarms by pressing the test button once a month and replace batteries yearly. Replace alarms every 10 years.
Add Fire Extinguishers
Install a fire extinguisher on each level of your home, and learn how to use it. Place high on a wall away from any heat sources and near an exit.
Check Heating Sources
Get a professional inspection and cleaning of your furnace and fireplace (or wood or coal stove) once a year. Make sure your chimney is cleaned regularly.
Check Wiring and Cords
If you live in an older home or have any concerns, you should have a qualified electrician check your wiring regularly. On your own, you should replace any damaged electrical cords on appliances, electronics and lamps. Eliminate extension cord or outlet overloading. If you don’t have enough outlets in a room, hire an electrician to add more. Secure loose cover plates and make sure you don’t have any exposed outlet wires. Remove wiring and cords from high-traffic areas or under rugs, and remove nails that hold wiring in place.
Check Outside Your Home
If you live in a dry climate or a region that experiences hot temperatures, be mindful of your landscaping. Bark mulch or compost piles can spontaneously combust in dry, hot conditions, and mulch can also ignite quickly and smolder when a careless smoker ashes or tosses a cigarette butt into it. If you have landscape beds around your foundation, make sure you have at least an 18-inch clearance between your house and mulch, and avoid using rubber. Wet the mulch frequently during dry spells. Be sure to turn compost piles and inspect frequently.
Develop Safe Habits
If you’re a smoker, smoke outside. Never smoke in bed, while medicated or inebriated, or in a home where someone uses oxygen. Use deep ashtrays and douse smoking materials with water when finished or disposing. Never ash into landscaping. Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children. Don’t leave candles, incense, portable heaters or hot stoves unattended. Stay home when the oven’s on. Use flashlights instead of candles during a power outage. Clean up properly after home improvement projects and store chemicals safely. Educate yourself on how to safely use alternative heat sources like space heaters, fireplaces and more.
Talk to Your Family
Talk to your kids about fire safety. Create a fire escape plan that involves two methods for every room in your home. Check those exits for obstacles or problems like sticking windows. Run fire drills and teach kids how to stop, drop and roll.
We hope you never experience a home fire, but if you do, rest assured your Farm Bureau agent will be by your side to help you navigate claims during such a difficult time.