Man has been attempting to control fire since the beginning of time, but even with mankind’s technological advancements in fire prevention, millions of acres burn each year in the United States1 and on average, fire departments fight nearly 400,000 structure fires every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association2. A review of the devastating statistics may be helpful during October, which is National Fire Prevention Month. It is important to develop a healthy respect for the element and to take steps toward prevention.
Fire is not something that happens to someone else. It is indiscriminate. It could sweep through your neighborhood, your backyard, your home. Of the fires that are reported, 27% were house fires and sadly, almost 80% of fire deaths and 73% of injuries associated with fire, occurred in homes3. The reasons run the gamut: cooking, electrical, equipment, heating, smoking and arson are all culprits4.
Steps to Prevent Home Fires
Keep a fire extinguisher where it is easily accessible. Read the directions and learn how to use it in case of an emergency. Also, teach your children how to use the fire extinguisher. Traditional fire extinguishers have a general life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Practice Cooking Safety
Cooking poses the greatest threat for starting a fire at home. Cut the risk by staying alert in the kitchen. Do not leave the stove unattended when cooking. Set a timer when cooking anything in the oven. Never leave food cooking on the stove top unattended and only operate the oven range according to the manufacturer’s instructions and for its intended purpose. Do not turn the stove on to heat up the house when the weather turns cold.
Do not store items inside or on top of the stove, thinking you’ll remember to remove them when the oven is turned on. It’s not a chance worth taking.
If a fire flares up on the stovetop, use a pan lid to quickly, but carefully, cover and smother the flame. If a fire starts inside the stove, do not open the door. The lack of oxygen will smother the fire. Turn the oven off.
If a kitchen fire proves to be too much for you, call 9-1-1, after leaving the house and closing the door to keep the fire contained.
Inspect HVAC System Before the Cold Winter Months
Your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is responsible for keeping your family comfortable during the hot summer months and the cold long days of winter. Turning the heater on after several months of non-use can prove problematic and present a fire hazard. Dust and debris can cover the inside of ducts that deliver heat. The dust particles fuel fire when a compromised electrical system creates the perfect storm for a fire to start.
Before heating the house during winter, have the HVAC checked by a professional HVAC technician. Cleaning the ducts will lessen the risk of fire, but a thorough inspection of the wiring will also help to prevent a fire at home.
Clean the Lint Trap
Dryers are manufactured with lint traps, which as the name implies, collect the lint left over from the clothes that rotate inside the dryer. The lint trap can become quite full and should be cleaned following each dryer load. In addition to cleaning the lint trap, the hose that carries the hot air from the dryer and expels it outside, should also be cleared out from time to time. Left over lint that gathers in the vent pipe can catch fire.
Install Smoke Alarms
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but a smoke alarm will alert you to the danger. The majority of deaths associated with home fires are caused by smoke inhalation and not the fire itself5. Place smoke detectors within sleeping areas, bedrooms and on each floor level. Don’t forget the basement. Smoke rises, so place smoke detectors high on the wall or on ceilings. Test alarms every month and replace batteries at least once a year.
Keeping your family safe from fire and other hazards is your number one priority. A home warranty plan* offered by NextEra Home will help to protect your finances from the cost of failures of your home appliances, HVAC and more due to normal wear and tear, which could otherwise prove hazardous.
To learn more about how a home warranty plan offered by NextEra Home can benefit you, call 833-634-6634.
*The home warranty plans are service plans and not warranties.