When you’re a homeowner, your home should feel like the ultimate place of safety and security. But sometimes, accidents can happen. House fires in particular can always pose a dangerous threat. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 346,800 homes experience a structural fire each year, and FEMA reports that more than 2,500 Americans are killed in residential fires annually.
Fire Prevention at Home
You might think that taking the normal baseline precautions are enough, but remember that even a small fire can spread within minutes. Beyond that, it can take more time to escape your home than you think. Take a look at these fire safety tips to help prevent a fire, and stay safe in the event of an emergency.
FEMA also reports that the top three causes of fires in homes are cooking, heating equipment, and electrical malfunction. When cooking especially, there are a few simple safety steps to be mindful of in the kitchen:
- Ensure that the burners and stove are always turned off when you are finished cooking
- Be especially careful when cooking or frying with oil and grease
- Make sure that all clothing and other combustible materials stay far away from open flames
Heating Your Home
Any risks with your home’s heating system will change depending on your own specific situation. If you use conventional gas heating, it’s a good idea to have annual inspections to ensure everything is working properly. Plus, you want to check for any gas leaks and the potential risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Other factors to consider include:
- Make sure there are at least 3 feet of clearance between space heaters and any flammable objects
- Ensure wood-burning heaters and fireplaces are properly maintained and cleaned on a regular basis
- Always check the wiring on any electronic heaters to make sure there is no damage
Watch Your Candles
Candle safety seems like a no brainer, but you can never be too careful! When using candles, be smart about their placement. Never leave an open flame unattended or near children. Extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
Be Wary of Smoking Indoors
In general, smoking is dangerous to your health and wellbeing! But if you choose to smoke, make sure to keep others (and your home!) safe and smoke outdoors if you can. Indoor smoking is one of the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths in the United States. If you must smoke inside, make sure you never smoke in bed and always fully extinguish cigarettes when finished. Keep matches and lighters away from children. And never place ashes in a trash can where they can ignite a fire; instead, wet them down and dispose of them in a metal container.
Appliances and Furniture
Be aware of the way that you choose to decorate and furnish your home. In general, furniture can catch fire very quickly. Take special care with placing furniture near heat sources. As for appliances, electrical malfunctions account for about 14% of residential building fires. It is important to check electrical cords and to replace them if they are damaged, especially if you’re using outlets that are near your furniture or curtains.
Be Prepared if a Fire Occurs
While preventative measures to stop a fire before it happens are important, sometimes it is impossible to avoid an emergency situation. In the event a fire occurs in your home, you must take additional steps to ensure your protection.
Utilize Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are one of the best ways to prevent house fires. But they’re pretty useless if you don’t know if they even work. Ensuring that your smoke detectors are working properly is a huge part of your safety. Check that you have a smoke detector in every room in which people sleep and outside of the sleeping area. Test the detector once a month by pushing the test button until it beeps.
If your smoke detector needs a new battery or is malfunctioning, take care of it as soon as possible. Smoke detectors older than 10 years need to be replaced and batteries older than six months should be changed as well. If you ever hear the fire alarm, it is important that you immediately leave your home.
Invest in Fire Extinguishers
If a fire does occur, you should be prepared to handle it. Fire extinguishers are easy to store in the kitchen to help contain any small accidental outbreaks. Make sure that you purchase one. Nearly a quarter of Americans don’t have a fire extinguisher in their home, but it’s truly a necessary item to stop minor fires before they spread. Ensure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and working properly. Familiarize yourself with PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
Develop an Escape Plan
Aside from fire prevention, it’s always important to know what to do should the worst occur. If you find yourself in the midst of an active house fire, you don’t want to panic and make a mistake. Creating a fire escape plan is very important and will allow you to be ready in case a fire ever does occur. Identify all possible escape routes from your home and establish a meeting place outside (at a safe distance from your house) with your family. Conduct your own fire drills, both during the day and at night, so you’re never caught off guard in an emergency.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, and Who’s at Risk
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is far more common than you might think. The colorless, odorless gas is a deadly and invisible menace. According to the CDC, every year, accidental Carbon Monoxide poisoning is responsible for at least 420 deaths in the United States, along with tens of thousands of emergency room visits. But you can protect yourself and your family. Take these simple, preventative measures to ensure your home is not at risk of prolonged Carbon Monoxide exposure.
Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct produced when burning carbon-based fuels like petrol, charcoal, coal and kerosene. Many commonplace household appliances utilize these fuels – think gas ovens, gas furnace systems, wood stoves and coal burners. While you shouldn’t be afraid to use modern gas appliances in your home, it’s important to be aware of how they function. Or in the case of Carbon Monoxide, being aware of the dangers of malfunctioning appliances, appliances that are old, faulty or not well maintained, or misusing any appliances in a dangerous way.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
A particularly frightening aspect to Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the fact that it can take an extended period before symptoms, and potential fatalities, to reveal themselves. What’s more, many of the symptoms that indicate Carbon Monoxide poisoning may be easily dismissed by preexisting conditions or the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Watch for symptoms like:
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
No one is immune to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. However, babies, elderly and those with compromised immune systems stemming from respiratory conditions, heart disease or anemia are at a much greater risk. If you feel any combination of symptoms after spending an extended amount of time in your living space, and suspect Carbon Monoxide to be the culprit, get to fresh air as soon as possible and call 911 or a health professional right away.
Basic Carbon Monoxide Safety
Because of its elusiveness and difficulty to detect, Carbon Monoxide can be tricky to understand and prepare against. Which makes it very easy to overlook or not recognize in your home before it’s too late. But there are a few simple, important safety measures you can take to keep you and your family protected.
- Don’t warm up a vehicle or leave the engine running in your garage.
- Keep running generators in a well-ventilated area away from your home.
- Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home.
- Keep fireplaces, furnaces, dryers, and stoves clear of debris before you use them.
Above all, make sure to have at least one CO alarm in your home. It will act just like a fire alarm, telling you when you are in danger. If it goes off, get outside to get fresh air immediately and call 911.
Utilize Monitored Smoke and CO Alarms for the Best Protection
By far the easiest and most important line of defense against CO poisoning is the use of a CO detector. But just like smoke alarms, CO alarms only go as far as letting you know that you’re in danger. It’s up to you to take those next steps to safety. But what if no one is home? What if it’s too late, and you or someone you love is already incapacitated due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning? In emergency moments where time is precious, a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.
While most homes and businesses utilize some form of battery-powered smoke alarms and CO detectors, monitored systems can add that extra layer of protection. Here’s how it works:
- Alert 360’s monitored CO and fire protection system detects smoke or carbon monoxide.
- Our Central Monitoring Station is alerted and calls the home to assess the situation, then the authorities if needed.
- First responders are dispatched and arrive on scene in minutes rather than hours.
A monitored system not only detects the danger and attempts to contact you, but takes that next step to actually dispatch first responders. Those precious minutes could be the difference between life and death.
The Benefits of Monitored Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
At Alert 360, monitored CO and fire prevention systems are linked to our 5 Diamond Alarm Monitoring Center. That means appropriate help can be summoned when an alarm goes off, whether you are home or not, even if the security alarm is not armed.
Monitoring is especially important in cases where occupants are not capable of responding appropriately to a traditional alarm, like:
- Elderly or disabled individuals
- Individuals already overcome by the effects of CO or smoke
- Pets in an otherwise empty house.
Firefighters recommend placing one monitored smoke/CO detector in every bedroom and living space. Prepare yourself and do your part to ensure that your home will never be in a dangerous fire situation.
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