Virtually no one expects a fire to break out in his or her home, but sometimes, it just happens. With a little commonsense planning, however, you can lessen the chances of fire damage to your residence.
Stay Smart in the Kitchen
When you ask yourself, “What’s the No. 1 source of fire damage near me?” the answer should be clear: It’s your kitchen. That’s where the majority of residential fires originate, which makes sense given the abundance of heat sources and flammable materials there.
To reduce your chances of a kitchen fire, keep combustible items such as cookbooks, towels, and drapes far away from the oven and stovetop. When cooking, turn pot and pan handles inward, so they won’t be knocked over as you move about the room. If you have only one fire extinguisher in your home, make sure it’s in the kitchen.
Don’t leave hot appliances unattended, either. If you absolutely must step out for a moment or two while you’re cooking, turn off the waffle iron or take that pot off the stove until you return.
Police Your Smoke Detectors
Test your smoke detectors once a month to ensure that their batteries are good and that all units are working. (Jotting a note on your calendar or setting a reminder in your smartphone will make it easier to remember to perform a quick monthly check.) If a unit isn’t working, repair it, replace it, or change its batteries immediately. A smoke detector without power is basically wall art.
Exercise Caution With Candles
Never leave a lit candle alone. Never leave a candle lit overnight while you’re sleeping, no matter how cozy it feels. Keep candles far away from flammable objects such as drapes and paper, and always use them on a level surface.
Check Your Cords
From microwaves to PlayStations and everything in between, your home is undoubtedly filled with electrical cords. Following a few commonsense cord rules can reduce your risk of fire:
- Inspect all cords regularly. If you spot a fray, throw it away.
- Avoid using extension cords if you can. They can wear out quickly and easily.
- Buy name brand power strips and surge protectors.
- When not in use, unplug phone chargers and any other items that feel warm to the touch when used.
- Don’t hide cords under rugs or wedge them between furniture and the wall. They produce heat and can pose a hazard.
Take Good Care of Your Heating Source
If you have a furnace, get it inspected annually. Swap out the filter regularly to avoid a potentially hazardous dust buildup. If you use space heaters, look them over before each use, and be sure to position them a safe distance from paper, fabric, and any other flammable materials. Generally speaking, the ideal buffer is at least three feet.
Keep Your Dryer Clean
Clean your lint trap after every load of laundry. Once a month, inspect the dryer’s perimeter for lost laundry and accumulated lint. Once a year, use a shop vac to deep-clean the lint screen and its housing as well as exterior vents.
Be Smart About Storing Flammable Products
Store flammable household items away from heat, ideally in a cool, dark cabinet. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that your home may be full of many more combustible items than you think. Here’s just a small sample of some of the most flammable items in your home:
- Plastic storage bins
- Nail polish and remover
- Rubbing alcohol
- Non-dairy coffee creamer
- Hand sanitizer
If you have small children in your home, it’s wise to keep most of these items out of their sticky little clutches, too.
Sleep With Your Bedroom Doors Closed
A closed door won’t stop a fire from spreading throughout your home, but it will slow it down. Whether you’re heading for the exit or waiting for help to arrive, every second counts.
Know How To Shut the Whole Thing Down
Learn where and how to shut off all of your home’s utilities, including fuses, circuit breakers, and gas lines. You never know when being able to quickly throw a switch may come in handy.
A little common sense can go a long way when it comes to reducing the risk of fire in your home. Through regular maintenance of appliances and the smart use and storage of combustible products, you can significantly boost your family’s safety.