There are probably dozens of fire prevention safety tips to share. Don’t worry, this article will go into just a dozen of things that you can do to prevent a house fire. These were selected from my experience as the office safety, going through hundreds of homes, and studying the fire incident reports of house fires. In short, these are real concerns that when corrected can significantly reduce your chances of catastrophic loss.
- Make sure you have 2 ways out of each room. A door and a window large enough that someone can escape in case of a fire. In basements you want to ensure a door or window is large enough with a ladder if needed. On higher floors a chain ladder or other kind of easily stored and deployed ladder should be used. Safe egress is not only good for escaping fires, but any other bad situations needing an escape route.
- Make sure all smoke detectors work by testing them. Replace batteries if they are old. Sometimes you may need to replace the smoke detector if it is discolored, old or no longer works. Smoke detectors aren’t worth repairing. It’s a good thing to know the type of smoke detectors you have in your home. Hard-wired or battery operated. Hard-wired smoke detectors never require battery replacements while battery operated units require regular replacements.
- Test GFCI and AFCI outlets to ensure they will trip when needed. If they do not trip they can overheat and cause an electrical fire. Replace any faulty outlets. When GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupting outlets or AFCI arc fault circuit interrupting outlets trip they are saying “STOP, wait there is something wrong”. These outlets are electrical safety devices meant to prevent electrocution and electrical fires. If you test these regularly you are doing a lot to prevent electrical fires.
- Have a licensed professional evaluate your electrical panel to ensure it has safe wiring. This tip applies mostly for those in older homes or homes where work has been done on the electrical panel. Most reputable licensed electricians won’t illegally wire an electrical panel, but most inspectors will attest to seeing illegal wiring in the main electrical panel. What we’re talking about is multiple wires connected to a circuit breaker designed for one wire which can overheat the breaker and cause a fire.
- Check extension cords and surge protectors. Do not link extension cords or surge protectors together. These are not made to serve as permanent outlets and wires. Replace any chained extension cords and surge protectors with hard wired permanent outlets. Many people don’t know that these overheat when they are liked together because the wires aren’t designed to carry as much power as many people demand of them. Linked extension cords and surge protectors are often over-tapped with every outlet plugged and multiple plug attachments added. These are situations were a fire is waiting to occur.
- Maintain clear walking paths. Keep toys, clothing and other items off the stairs and floor to prevent tripping in case of home evacuation. If we all turned on the lights in every area we walked and noticed everything in front of us this wouldn’t be of great concern, however in an emergency, you need a clear walking path.
- If the lights flicker, there’s an electrical issue somewhere. Contact a licensed electrician. This is an indicator of a loose connection. Loose electrical connections typically means there is arcing somewhere and arcing creates overheating. If this isn’t corrected we’re in for bad news.
- Supervise burning candles and incense so that you’re present if something goes wrong. Most modern candles come in a solid flat base glass jar. However, there are still some that require candle holders. If the wrong candle holder is used or none at all then the candle can tip over. You want to be there to catch a toppled candle before fire spreads.
- If you smoke, extinguish cigarettes in water to completely stop them from burning. Countless house fires have been started from someone smoking in bed or in a sofa. While its tough to prevent a cigarette fire when you’re half sleep, its a good idea not to smoke when you’re sleepy.
- Keep stored items away from light bulbs. Usually when there is a low ceiling of shelf items get stacked there within inches of a operable light bulb. The rule of thumb is
- Use only space heaters with an auto shutoff safety feature. These shutoff when they are tipped over. Another favorite fire safe space heater type is a ceramic heater. This type doesn’t have exposed heating coils and cools down quickly when not in use.
- Supervise food while cooking. Stepping away for a short period of time or “just for a second” can have devastating effects on your meal plans.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways to prevent house fires, but it’s a good start in thinking about being fire safety conscious. Signup for our newsletter to the right if you want to stay up-to-date on useful tips like this.