The statistics alone underscore the need for a home fire prevention plan. As the National Fire Protection Association notes, in 2016 there were 475,500 structure fires that caused 2,950 deaths, 12,775 injuries and $47.9 billion in property damage. One home structure fire was reported every 90 seconds and a civilian fire injury was reported every 34 minutes.
Fortunately, while these statistics are definitely serious, they do not have to be inevitable for you and your family. By knowing the common causes of house fires, being proactive and adopting a fire escape plan, you can keep your home and family as safe as possible. With that in mind, please consider the following tips:
Check Your Wiring
If your home is 50 or more years old, you should consider having its wiring inspected by a professional who can determine if the wiring is safe or if it is a fire hazard. Warning signs that it may be time to look into rewiring a house include a persistent burning smell, charred outlets and blown fuses. If the electrician determines that your wiring is faulty, you may be wondering how to rewire a house. Rewiring a house involves removing as much of the old wire as possible and installing non-metallic wire in its place. The average cost to wire a new house varies depending on the size of the home; in general, it averages from $8,000 to $15,000.
Be Extra Careful in the Kitchen
Cooking is a top cause of house fires, and unattended cooking is the main cause for these fires to start. Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop—this includes oven mitts, towels and curtains. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove or broiler, and when frying, keep a close eye on the pan to be sure the oil is not getting too hot. Keep a lid handy; this way if the pan catches fire, you can carefully slide the lid over the pan and turn the burner off.
Schedule a Checkup for the Heating System
Almost half of all house fires take place in the winter. The reason? Faulty furnaces and home heating systems. To be sure your heater is operating safely, have it regularly maintained; a professional can inspect it and tune it up to be sure your furnace or heater is safe and operating efficiently. Also, keep flammable items away from the furnace and change the filter on a regular basis. Space heaters are also a cause for concern; while they are a convenient way to make a room warm and cozy, they can also be dangerous. Keep anything that can catch on fire at least three feet away from a portable space heater—this includes you and your kids.
Practice Fire Safety
The Red Cross suggests installing smoke alarms on every level of your house, inside bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas; these alarms should all be tested monthly to be sure they are still working. Discuss a fire escape plan with your family and practice it at least twice a year—if you have kiddos, this should include letting your children hear what a smoke alarm sounds like (warn them that it will be really loud) and what to do when they hear it go off.
Fire Safety Starts with You
Fortunately, most fires start due to something that is completely preventable. To keep your home and precious family members safe requires a combination of knowing the major fire risks and how to prevent them. By following these tips you can avoid becoming a house fire victim statistic.