October is Fire Safety Month and we are starting this month’s blog off with some important fire safety tips and common causes of household fires to help you prevent fires in your home and keep your family safe.
Fire in the home is a devastating event which may lead to loss of life, injuries, and damage to properties. On a yearly basis, millions around the world experience fire in their homes. Readiness can make a difference between life and a devastating loss.
Even when no loss of life occurs, fires are still quite devastating baceause of the amount of damage that befalls your property and belongings. The effects of the disaster are compounded because most fires that start in the home could have actually been prevented.
The following are the most common causes of household fires and possible ways of preventing them from occurring:
Carelessness in the kitchen is the leading cause of house fires in general.
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking – especially while using oil or cooking at high temperatures.
- Pots or pans should not be left unattended on the stove or gas cooker.
- Hand towels, paper towels, dish towels, oven mitts, and anything else that could catch fire should be kept away from the oven or stove top.
- The stove top and oven should always be kept clean as food residue and grease can begin to burn and lead to a fire when the stove or cooker is turned on.
- Always ensure a working fire extinguisher is always made readily available in the kitchen and learn how to use it.
Electrical fires are also a very common threat faced by homes. It comes with different warnings such as circuit breakers tripping off frequently, blowing of fuses, and most commonly, lights dimming when another electrical/electronic appliance is used. Ensure the following:
- Check all electrical appliances and ensure they do not have any loose or frayed wires and plugs.
- Replace all frayed electrical wires.
- Do not cover electrical wires with rugs.
- Ensure outlets are not overloaded with plugs.
- Replace flickering light bulbs.
- Lookout for light switches that are too hot to touch and contact a professional.
- Do not use water to extinguish electrical fire as the is a high considerable risk of electrocution.
One of the major causes of home fire is candles most especially during winter and Christmas seasons where they often kept close to blankets or decorative items. A burning candle kept in an unoccupied room is dangerous. Make sure that:
- Candles are never left unattended to; blow it out when leaving the room.
- Keep candles in deep and wide containers.
- Candles should always be kept out of the reach of children and away from pets or spots where they can be bumped.
- Candles should be kept away from fabrics and combustible materials.
Fatal fires start mostly at night. So always ensure you have a working smoke alarm – this device can save your life. Alarms should be placed closed to the kitchen and sleeping areas. Also place smoke alarms at every level of the house. Alarms should be tested every month to ensure they are working properly. Also, batteries should be replaced twice every year.
Check Your Home Insurance Coverage
Fires are also financially devastating. It is important to review your homeowners or renters insurance to ensure you are fully covered in the event of a fire. Homeowners insurance will help protect you from the cost of rebuilding your home and replacing your belongings. Renters insurance will help protect your belongings only since you are not responsible for insuring the building itself.
An escape plan should be created for the household in event of domestic fire. Every member of the household should be educated on “what to do” and “what not to do” in event of fire. Tips to include in your escape plan:
- Map out the plan. This is especially helpful for young children who can better comprehend things when they see them.
- Each person should have their own escape route – out the nearest door or window.
- Designate a meeting spot that is a safe distance from your home.
- Assign a family member to be in charge of helping other family members escape who cannot help themselves (such as infants or elderly family members).
- Practice. Practice. Routinely going through your escape plane and acting it out is the best way to embed the process and what to do in an emergency in the minds of all family members. Also practice at different times of the day/night and perform “surprise” escapes.