A home fire safety inspection can significantly reduce your chances of having a fire in your home. The inspection is intended to alert you of potential fire hazards so that you can have them checked or repaired or have the appropriate safety equipment installed. The Fire Rescue Department will conduct an inspection of your home at no charge if requested. However, you can reduce your chance of having a fire by using the following tips.
- Have your chimney and central heating system inspected and cleaned each year for fire safety and carbon monoxide problems.
- Keep your attic and other storage spaces free from combustibles such as old papers, magazines and discarded rags and clothing.
- Install and maintain working smoke alarms on each level of your home and outside the sleeping areas.
- Use portable and space heaters with care. Keep combustibles at least three feet away from them at all times. Clean them regularly and fuel them properly.
- Never store gasoline or gasoline run equipment inside your home. Always keep gasoline and other flammables in approved containers and away from heat, sparks, or flames.
- Never leave cooking unattended. Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles.
- Store matches and lighters up high and out of the reach of children.
- Identify your house with large address numbers that the fire department can see easily.
- Never overload electrical outlets or override/ bypass fuses or circuit breakers. Never run extension cords under carpets or across doorways. Check the cords on your appliances for fraying or breakage. Use surge protectors for items like televisions, stereos, or computers.
- Use sturdy non-spill ashtrays and check for smoldering butts in furniture after someone has been smoking. Leave butts in the ashtray to cool overnight, and place the ashtray in the sink. Never allow anyone to smoke in bed!
- Make sure to develop and practice a home escape plan. Make sure that there are two clear exits from each room. Always sleep with your bedroom doors closed.
This list addresses some of the major causes of fires, however it is not a comprehensive list. If something produces heat or a spark, it can cause a fire so you should keep anything that can burn away from anything that can cause a fire.
Exit Drills In The Home
Knowing what to do before a fire breaks out can save your life. Therefore, one should develop a home escape plan to ensure that everyone can make it out during an emergency. Making a home escape plan consist of three simple steps.
- Draw a floor plan of your house showing two ways out of every room
Your first way out should always be the way you would normally leave your house. Windows should only be considered as a secondary exit. Make sure every exit is usable. If a ladder is needed to use a window, determine where and how you would get that ladder in an emergency. You may need to purchase a collapsible ladder to store in the room.
- Have a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your home
This meeting place should be somewhere that is always available, and easily remembered, such as by the mailbox. Call the fire department from your meeting place. Never go back into a burning building for any reason.
- Practice your escape plan
Since most fires occur at night when people are asleep, practice leaving from your bedrooms. Since smoke and heat rises, practice crawling out below the smoke. You should also practice using both exits, especially if it requires using the ladder, so everyone is familiar with doing it.
It has been found that we learn best through repetition, so practice at least monthly. To add some realism to your practice, do it at night with the lights out.
Home escape planning is only a part of a program of home fire safety, which includes installing smoke alarms and conducting home fire safety inspections. By completing all three steps you will increase your chances of surviving a home fire.