Nobody wants a fire to break out in their home covering all of their belongings in soot. With a little prevention and common sense, we can prevent many fires from ever happening in the first place. Follow these tips to help you and your family stay safe….
- Smoke detectors: Change the batteries in your smoke detectors every fall and spring. Smoke detectors should be on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Smoke detectors need to be changed every ten years. This includes hard wired detectors because the internal hardware will begin to break down. Many new smoke alarms come with a 10 year lithium battery and a 6 minute hush button, allowing you to silence the alarm without removing the battery. For more information on this go to www.nfpa.org/education.
- Electrical Cords: Make sure that none of your electrical cords have cracks or breaks. Throw out any that are in poor condition. Why risk it? You can keep grandpa’s old power sander, just replace the old cord. Go to E How to learn how.
- Flea Market Finds: Here is something you have probably never considered…. Have you ever gone to a flea market and seen vendors hawking extension cords, power strips, nightlights, batteries and even circuit breakers for ridiculously low prices? There is a reason why…They are probably counterfeits and they are incredibly dangerous. “They have inferior copper in them (speaker wire) and it literally melts in your hands”, says Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
- Overloaded circuits: Have you ever had a circuit breaker that kept tripping or fuses that kept blowing? These are signs of inadequate power, often due to an over-reliance on extension cords. Extension cords are meant to be temporary. If you are finding that you need to use them often, it is time to hire an electrician to update your demands. Electrical fires are the leading source of fires year after year.
- Escape in time: On average you have only 2 minutes to escape after a fire breaks out in your home. Make sure you and your family have discussed a fire escape plan and a meeting place away from the home. Children are very receptive to learning, so set a timer and have them practice the escape routes. They will have fun practicing and it helps to provide peace of mind for them knowing what to do in the event of a fire. It is also a great time to explain why it is dangerous to leave their clothes and toys all over the floor. Make sure they understand how important it is for them and the firemen to have a clear path for a safe exit.
- Fire extinguishers: These need to be checked yearly and replaced every 6 years. Fire extinguishers have 4 different classifications:
Class A: Combustible material such as paper and wood.
Class B: Fires involving flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint, diesel fuel or solvents.
Class C: Fires started in electrical equipment by arching or overheating.
Class D: Fires involving combustible metal powders, flakes or shavings.
- Grease fires: NEVER use water on a grease fire. Turn off the burner and place a lid over the flames to cut off the oxygen supply to the fire. Baking soda can be used to smother a fire, but it does require a liberal amount to be effective.