You just bought a new house and your proud of the fact that you finally own a home that makes you feel like you own the world. Not long before you have it, disaster strikes and you are outside of your house at 1 a.m. with your family staring at a chunks of brown wood, smoke and orange-red fire which was once your lair. How could this have happened?
A fire can happen in the best of homes whether it’s brand new or old. It really doesn’t matter. According to The National Safety Council, more than 500,000 residential fires occur annually in the United States which results from fatal fires occurring between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. So don’t make the mistake of thinking a fire can’t happen in your home. You must plan for a fire and know what steps you and your family will do to ensure personal family safety with a few simple, inexpensive defense measures, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and most important of all, practicing an escape plan.
1. Prevention Is Your Best Protection
The first line of defense for a fire is to prevent one from happening by performing a fire audit. Check your home for obvious fire hazards from frayed electrical wires, many extension cords on a single plug, flammable materials- gasoline, gas grill propane and kerosene. Are they stored in safe areas, such as basements, garages or in outside sheds, away from heat exposure?
2. Stoves and Chimneys
Chimneys tend to be the leading fire starters, especially when they are used to exhaust wood stoves, fireplaces, coal stoves, or kerosene heaters. It is said that creosote and other flammable waste builds up near the top and at curved joints. This residue can burst into flames when sparked by a hot fire. You must eliminate the danger by cleaning chimneys at least once a year especially if a wood stove or fireplace is used frequently.
3. Cooking and Heating
Oil and gas heating systems are safe and dependable, but require periodic checking at the very least, once a year. Gas lines and appliances should be checked by a plumber or gas technician for possible leaks. Oil-furnaces and water heaters should be checked and cleaned annually. Burner and fuel injectors require maintenance to keep them operating safely and efficiently. Check them before the beginning of the heating season.
4. Smoke Detectors
First thing one must do is to make sure that the smoke detector works properly. Test the batteries making sure that there isn’t any rust or corrosion, it might be best to replace the batteries every 6 months and it shouldn’t be that expensive. Some smoke detectors can be tested by rapidly moving a flashlight across the test button. Smoke detector failure is most frequently due to dead or depleted batteries. Make sure you watch out for improperly placed detectors, which won’t warn people in time for them to escape. Ionization detectors are best for intensely hot, blazing fires that don’t produce a lot of smoke. Photoelectric detectors are superior at alerting you to slow burning fires that produce a lot of smoke.
5. Fire Drills
Work out an escape route for every family member. There are numerous ways that a family can come up with an escape plan because every house is different. Tell children what to do in case of fire or smoke. Have them practice the “fireman’s crawl,” nose and belly close to the floor to maximize oxygen consumption. Teach children the buddy system, making older children responsible in an emergency for a younger sibling. It is very important to get out of the house without stopping for belongings because most of them can be replaced. That is where insurance kicks in. Establish an outdoor emergency location where all family members meed immediately following an exit.
The best way to live comfortably is to know what can happen to your home instead of thinking what will never happen. This will make you and your family more aware of the fact that things do happen and can cause a disaster and loss.