Smoke detectors are a major component of fire protection, but there is a lot homeowners can do to protect themselves, their families, their properties, and their homes from structure fires.
Check smoke detectors routinely. Smoke detectors can only alert residents to a fire if they are working properly. Battery operated smoke detectors will not work if the batteries are dead. Routine smoke detector checks can ensure that the batteries still contain juice and that the devices themselves are still working properly. Test alarms to ensure that the devices work and are audible in adjoining rooms. Install additional detectors as necessary so alarms and warnings can be heard in every room of the house.
Hire an electrician to audit your home. Electricians can inspect the home and identify any problems that could make the home more vulnerable to fire. Have electricians check every part of the house, including attics and crawl spaces. Oft-overlooked areas like attics and crawl spaces pose a potential fire safety threat, with data from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) indicating that 13 percent of electrical fires start in such spaces.
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Laundry room notation. The laundry room is another potential source of home structure fires. National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) data indicates that about 3% of home building fires start in laundry rooms each year. Strategies to reduce the risk of laundry room fires include leaving room for laundry in washers and dryers; Routinely clean lint webs to avoid build-up of dust, fibers, and lint, which the NFPA notes are often the first items to catch in fires associated with dryers; And making sure washers and dryers are plugged into outlets can handle the voltage these appliances require. It’s also a good idea to clean the dryer’s vents and exhaust every year.
Look outside too. Although the majority of home fires start indoors, the NFPA reports that 4 percent of these fires start outside the home. Homeowners can reduce the risk of such fires by ensuring that all items where fire is used, including grills and fire pits, are at least 10 feet away from the home. Never operate a grill under eaves or use grills on rooftops. Never leave children unattended around the fire pits, because all it takes is one mistake and a moment for a fire to become unwieldy.
Worries about the little things. Hair dryers, hair straighteners, scented candles, clothes irons, and holiday decorations are some additional fire safety hazards in the home. Never leave candles burning in empty rooms and ensure that beauty and personal care items such as dryers, straighteners and flat irons are unplugged and kept in a safe place to cool when not in use.
Fire departments respond to hundreds of thousands of home fires each year. Some simple preventive strategies and measures can greatly reduce the risk of a fire starting in your home.