What You Can Do To Prevent a Home Fire

smoke alarm

It goes without saying that most people desire to have a safe and functional home, and many people allocate a large percentage of their personal budget to make this happen. Housing payments are most often the largest household expense for both renters and homeowners. Homeowners have more invested in their home due to having made a down payment which is often substantially more than a deposit on a rental.

Experiencing a home fire will likely impact your ability to peacefully enjoy your home. It is our hope that you never have to undergo a home fire, which is why we’re offering these helpful tips …

Common Causes of Home Fires

In order to prevent home fires, an important first step is to understand some common causes:
The number one cause of home fires is accidents involving cooking, and this makes sense for a lot of reasons. Cooking is a daily activity in a lot of households, even as consumption of meals cooked outside the home has increased in recent decades. It is advisable to be attentive and take precautionary measures when cooking meals at home to prevent home fires. These are our Top 9 most prudent cooking practices:

  1. Stay in or near the kitchen when an oven, stove, fryer or indoor grill is in use.
  2. Do not keep flammable items near a cooking device while in use.
    • Flammable items include oven mitts, kitchen towels, curtains, food packaging, or even the top part of a blender.
  3. Turn off both large and small appliances when not in use.
  4. Keep younger children away from the kitchen.
    • Younger children likely do not realize all the hazards involved in cooking. Not only can this prevent household fires, but this can also prevent medical incidents. 
  5. Monitor cooking temperatures.
  6. Add cooking oils to cooking equipment slowly.
  7. Keep cooking equipment clean.
    • Grease fires from improperly cleaned equipment can cause fires.
    • If you accidentally set a grease fire, do not use water. Instead, follow these steps to safety:
      • Remove the heat source.
      • Cover the fire.
      • Use a fire extinguisher.
      • If all else fails, escape and call 911.
    • Crumbs in a toaster are also a known source of fires.
  8. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  9. Do not use cooking equipment when drowsy or intoxicated.

Carelessly used heating equipment, malfunctioning large appliances, and faulty wiring are all common causes of fires. Do not leave fireplaces or space/portable heaters unattended, and do not place space/portable heaters close to any flammable materials. The instruction manual that came with your space heater will contain information regarding spatial requirements. 

Perform regular maintenance of ovens and stoves, and have professionals check wiring when you suspect something may be wrong. Scheduling time-interval inspections (annually, every two years, etc.) is a good way to address issues in a proactive manner. 

Incidents involving candles and Christmas trees are also commonly associated with starting home fires. Do not leave lit candles unattended, and regularly water Christmas trees while they are in the home. Do not place Christmas trees near any type of heat source, such as a fireplace.

Finally, accidents associated with smoking are a common cause of indoor fires – smoking outdoors helps to greatly reduce this risk.

Fire Prevention & Treatment Equipment

A fire extinguisher is essential equipment for addressing smaller fires in the home. Since most fires happen in or near the kitchen, keeping the fire extinguisher in close proximity to the kitchen is an ideal choice. One of the best places for a fire extinguisher is in a cabinet under the kitchen sink.

Smoke detectors are also a key part of fire prevention and treatment. When a smoke alarm goes off, it is best to take it seriously. Knowing where to install a smoke detector will help you avoid false alarms.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) says you should install smoke alarms:

  • In each bedroom
  • Outside each sleeping area
  • On every level of the home
  • Away from windows or other sources of draft
  • Away from cooking appliances

It’s also a wise idea to test smoke detectors monthly. Also, follow manufacturer instructions on maintenance and battery replacement.

Many smoke detectors are now utilizing smart home technology. The major advantage of using a smart smoke detector is that it can send an alert to your smartphone or tablet if the alarm goes off when you are not at home.

When considering your smoke detectors, also consider carbon monoxide detection equipment. It’s vital to have that equipment up to date, regardless of whether you choose a traditional or a smart home version.

Home Evacuation Planning

If a fire happens and it is uncontrollable, evacuate the home promptly and then call 911. It is crucial for your household to have an evacuation plan for uncontrollable fires. You are likely to have approximately two minutes to get out safely.

Below are some important considerations for creating and executing a home evacuation plan:

  • Be sure to have working smoke detection alarms, preferably interconnected ones, so you’ll know evacuation is a possibility.
  • Assign evacuation roles for each household member.
  • Mark two ways out of each room (Courtesy of NFPA).
  • Always try to go with the safest plan (avoiding toxic smoke), but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary.
  • Check doors for heat to know if the room is a viable escape path.
  • Review and practice an escape plan twice a year, ensuring its feasibility.
  • Have a safe meeting place outside the home.
  • Never go back inside the home once it is burning uncontrollably.

Planning Serves You Best

Now that you know how to prevent and address a home fire, you are better positioned to enjoy peace of mind in your home. If you’d like to have peace of mind in a home that you own and can build equity in, contact one of our loan professionals today.