The U.S. Fire Administration says more than 360,000 fires destroyed homes in the United States in 2010. These fires caused 2,555 deaths and more than 13,000 injuries. Clearly, we should take house fires seriously. Taking small steps can help you stay safe.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have working smoke alarms in all major rooms of your home. Most of all, be sure you have one near your bedroom. Change the batteries twice a year, or ask someone to help you change them.
You should also check for possible fire starters. Make sure extension cords are not frayed, and don’t plug too many things into one outlet. In the kitchen, unplug small appliances, like your toaster, when you are not using them. Make sure the hood of your stove is clean and doesn’t have grease buildup. If you have a fireplace, put a screen up to block stray ashes and clean the chimney once a year.
Accidents can still happen. Make sure you know a couple ways to get out of your home if it catches fire. Make sure your house number is visible from the street. This helps firefighters get to you quickly.
Many fire stations will do a safety check at your home for free. Call your local fire department or senior center for details. And check out the sample fire safety checklist from the Urbana Fire Department.
Fires can happen quickly and be deadly. Keep your home secure, and have a safety plan. Some simple steps can go a long way toward keeping you safe.
Home Fire Safety Checklist
|Are your address numbers visible from the street to permit ease of identification?|
|Are your smoke detectors in working order, batteries changed twice a year?|
|Do you have an escape plan, meeting place, and do you practice it?|
ALL HOUSEHOLD AREAS
|Do you keep your passageway doors shut to reduce fire spread in the event of fire?|
|Are you using extension cords? Limit their use.|
|Check all electrical cords to make sure they are in good condition.|
|Check to make sure outlets are not overloaded.|
|Check all windows to make sure they operate smoothly.|
|Do not allow waste paper and combustibles to collect and become a fire hazard.|
|Ashtrays should be provided for all smokers. They should be disposed of properly.|
|Are your household chemicals stored away from children?|
|Are matches and lighters stored out of reach of children?|
|No combustibles should be stored in the attic.|
|Does your fireplace have a screen and hearth to protect from flying embers?|
|Has your chimney been cleaned? Is it operating properly?|
|Are all combustibles kept away from the cooking area?|
|Is your range hood clean and vented properly?|
|Are all unused small appliances unplugged when not in use?|
|Are your heating ducts properly maintained?|
|Are combustibles stored away from the furnace and water heater?|
|Is your furnace filter clean?|
|Are there any oversized fuses in the fuse box?|
|Are your washer and dryer properly grounded?|
|Do you keep your basement door closed to reduce fire spread in the vent of fire?|
|Is there a solid core door separating your garage from the house?|
|Are all flammable liquids stored in the proper containers?|
|Is the gasoline mower properly stored away from ignition sources?|
|Are there any combustible materials close to the house?|