How to Prevent House Fires

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In 2015, the U.S. Fire Administration reported 3,362 fire deaths, 271 being children between the ages of 0-14.

Even when there are no casualties, house fires are a tragedy to a family and a neighborhood. While some accidents are out of our hands, there are several things you can do to prepare and prevent disaster from striking your home.

Learn Proper Safety

The U.S. Fire Administration also reported that over 50% of residential fires are caused by cooking incidents. It is important to learn proper fire safety in the kitchen and teach others in your family, especially children. Never leave the stovetop unattended or hot overnight. Keep flammable materials like washcloths, paper towels, dry foods, or combustible items away from heat or open flames. And in the case of an emergency, keep a fire extinguisher somewhere close and easily accessible.

Avoid Fire Hazards

This may seem like a given, but seemingly meager details can be fatal if not attended to. Avoid overloading outlets with multiple power strips or converters, especially in an area with other flammable materials nearby (curtains, books, etc.). Do not keep excessive flammable materials in an area together (stacks of newspapers, storage, files) especially where it is warm and damp or near a heat-generating source. After cooking outside in a fire pit or a barbecue, always put the fire out completely and turn off the propane. A fire is no longer a danger when you can put your hand on the coals and feel no heat. Taking shortcuts may feel better in the short term, but it is better to take the time to rid your house of fire hazards than risk one, terrible accidents.

Stay Up To Date

This is especially vital in older houses where the electrical and heating units may not have been replaced or maintained. If you are unsure of your house’s security, call a professional to look over your system and put you at ease. It is also important to update old appliances, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers.

Keep (Updated!) Insurance Photos

While this may not come in handy until after a fire, it is still a good way to prepare for an incident. Whenever you acquire a big purchase such as a TV, gaming console, computer, car, and even memorabilia, remember to take a picture of it. Email these pictures to yourself, or keep them on a cloud storage in the case the camera is destroyed. In addition to big purchases, it would be wise to take comprehensive pictures of your house every couple of months to ensure that any recent changes will be taken into account when making an insurance claim.

Prepare Your Family

This is perhaps one of the most important preparations, as it can make all the difference in the world to your family. Be sure to teach your children where the fire extinguishers are, how to use them, and when to replace them. Show children several escape routes out of the house, and establish a meeting place in case of a fire. Of course, teach them how to dial 911, what to say, and what your address is. Don’t neglect the worst-case scenarios either; teach kids how to stop, drop, and roll and the dangers of smoke inhalation. While it may be grim to think about, preparation will pay off in an emergency.

These are only a few of the many comprehensive things that can be done to prevent house fires, but remember that they are not a guarantee; accidents still happen. You can learn more about house fire prevention at redcross.org or at the U.S. Fire Prevention website. House fires are a tragedy, but perhaps with the right preparation and training, they may someday be a thing of the past.

Sources:

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/#causesR

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/fire_death_rates.html 



Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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