Never Yell Fire!


With sensible precautions, you can prevent household fires.

By FamilyTime

 

Most of us go through life not worrying too much about fire. The odds of your house burning down are not great, but they exist—and there is no point in playing the odds. Instead, take sensible precautions.

You can never be certain that you won't experience a house fire, but by taking some common-sense measures, you can keep your family safe.

Precautions

Install smoke alarms. Keep them in working order and replace them every few years. Replace the batteries twice a year (many suggest doing so when the time changes in the spring and fall, as way to keep track).

Buy fire extinguishers and know how to use them. Keep them were you can easily access them, like in a kitchen closet or utility space.

Check your house’s wiring and replace it if needed. Rewiring an entire house is a big job and you may only need to concentrate on small areas. Always rely on a licensed electrician for this and any other electrical job. These are not a "do-it-yourself" projects.

Keep areas near fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters clear of clutter, paper, and small children and pets. Put up screens and guards to insure no one and nothing can get too close.

Work out escape routes with your kids. Practice them so that everyone knows what to do in the event of fire.

Causes

There are any number of reasons a fire might start in your house. Here are some of the most common:

Kitchen fires: Don’t leave the kitchen when you are using the stove. Flareups from pans left unattended on the stovetop are commonplace. Simmered, baked or braised dishes should be monitored regularly. Don't go out when anything is cooking. If you have a small grease fire, use salt or baking soda to extinguish it; not water.

Candles and other open flames: Candles should be lit only when an adult is present and even then they should never be left burning in an empty room. A fluttering piece of paper can ignite easily. A pet could knock the candle over. Fireplaces should always be protected with a mesh screen. Never leave a fire burning when you leave the house or go to bed. Be sure the ashes are banked and cool and the screen in place. Do not remove ashes from the fireplace until stone cold.

Small appliances: If too many heat-producing appliances are plugged into the same socket they could malfunction. This means separating the toaster and coffee maker and iron. It's a good idea to unplug these when not in use. Repair or discard faulty or questionable appliances. Never use lamps or appliances with frayed cords

Large appliances: Make sure the refrigerator, washing machine and dryer are working well. The dryer is the most problematic. Clean the lint trap every time you use it. Clean the dryer vent of lint about once a year or if the dryer seems sluggish and is not drying well. Never leave the dryer running when you leave the house or go to bed.

Light bulbs: Light bulbs themselves are not dangerous, but if you screw one into a lamp that cannot handle the bulb’s wattage, you could have a fire. If the lamp shade is too large, the lamp could easily tip or be knocked over and the hot bulb could ignite papers or fabric. Christmas tree lights should never be left burning while you sleep or when you leave the house.

Chimneys: Get your fireplace, oil burner, and woodstove chimneys cleaned by a professional once a year. If they need repair, take care of it.

Electric blankets: Most safety experts advise you not tuck these in very tightly or at all, or allow pets to sleep on top of them (they should not be weighted down). They also say to turn the blankets off when you actually are asleep.

Cigarettes: Be very careful if you smoke and never smoke in bed. Even a tiny ember can smolder in bedding and ignite.

If you are careful, make sure your kids’ sleepwear is flame retardant, and keep your home free of flammable liquids, careless stacks of papers and other hazards, you should be reasonably safe from fire.