Common Household Fire Hazards & How to Reduce Risk
Fire Prevention Week this year is from Sunday, October 8th until Saturday, October 14th. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” This year's Fire Prevention Week reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan and is also a perfect time to be aware of other possible fire hazards.
Review or Make a Fire Exit Plan. Whether you live alone or have a house full of people, your home needs a fire exit plan. If you have not already created one, then use Fire Prevention Week as your reason to make a plan. If you have one in place already, then walk through it and make sure your exits are still clear. Draw a map of your home with each member of your household, and mark two exits from each room and a path outside from each exit. Practice your home fire drill with everyone in your home at least twice a year, once at night and once during the day. Teach children in your home how to escape on their own in case you can't help them. During your planned exit, train family members to close doors behind them, slowing the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Lastly, once you leave the house, do not go back inside a burning building.
While you are cooking, never walk away from your stove. The number one cause of home fires is from cooking, more specifically stove-top cooking. The best way to prevent a kitchen fire is to stay with your food while you are cooking. Also, make sure anything that can catch fire is kept away from the cooking area at all times. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, so even if you are entertaining family for the holiday, remain mindful while you cook.
Heating your home is the second-largest threat for home fires, regardless of what type of heat you use. Place space heaters a minimum clearance of three feet from anything flammable. During the winter months, space heaters are often used in homes and are a fire hazard. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was the failure to clean heating equipment, especially creosote from chimneys. Call your chimney sweep to have it cleaned before your first fire is lit. Have central air systems inspected before the cold weather sets in. An improperly operating gas or oil furnace can lead to fire as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check all electrical cords in your home for frays or damage. December and January see the most electrical fires because of increased use of lights and heating appliances. Most electrical fires are caused by faulty outlets and outdated appliances. Never use an appliance with a damaged or frayed cord that can heat combustible surfaces like floors, rugs, or curtains. Extension cords can also cause electrical fires and should only be used temporarily, and not plugged in for any length of time. Make sure your circuits are not overloaded with too many items; a standard wall outlet is often overloaded. Never stack power strips on top of each other. When in doubt, call an electrician.
The widespread use of home smoke alarms is the main reason for the national decline in fire deaths. Use Fire Prevention Week as a reminder to check your smoke alarm batteries and make sure the alarm is not out of date. Smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years, but it is also a good idea to make sure your smoke alarm takes advantage of newer technologies to give your home the best protection possible. Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home to further reduce the threat of a fire.
Make a point to review your homeowner's insurance policy every year during Fire Prevention Week. AAA has an abundance of policies available for every home, and our knowledgeable agents can find solutions for your unique situation. Make an appointment with your local AAA Insurance agent today, or call us anytime at 1-866-315-1252. Our number one priority is your safety and peace of mind.