Tips to prevent a fire in your home
Fires can happen any time of year, but the chances go up significantly in the winter. Cooking, smoking, heating equipment, electrical problems and candles are some of the top causes for home fires. Below are some safety measures that you can take as a homeowner to help prevent fires and keep you and your family safe.
Cooking is the #1 cause of home fires and is responsible for almost half of home fires in the U.S. These rates can more than double on Thanksgiving. Never leave food unattended while it’s cooking and if you have to leave the room, turn off the burner. Keep all flammable materials away from cooking areas and keep a metal lid hand to smother grease fires. Putting water on a grease fire will cause it to explode. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and if a fire does occur, get out of the house as fast as possible and call 911.
Smoking is the #1 cause of fire deaths, most commonly occurring in a bedroom or living room. If you have to smoke, do it outside, use deep wide ash trays and pour water over them to fully extinguish. Never leave a burning cigarette unattended.
Heating equipment, such as a space heater, cause 2 of every 5 fires and another 1/3 are caused by fireplaces/chimneys. If you choose to use a space heater, keep it at least 3 feet away from anything flammable and 3 feet away from children. Turn off when you leave a room or when you go to sleep. If you have a fireplace, make sure to use a screen in front of it. You should also have your fireplace/chimney professionally cleaned once a year.
In 2014, over 500 people were killed by electrical fires caused by faulty wiring, outdated appliances or malfunctioning lighting equipment. Make sure you don’t overload an outlet. If you are using a heat producing appliance such as a space heater or toaster, plug it directly into an outlet by itself. You should never use an extension cord or power strip. If you have any electrical work that needs to be done, hire a professional. Also, all of your outdoor, bathroom, kitchen, garage and basement outlets should be protected with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) which will cut off electrical circuits when they become shock hazards. If you notice frequent blown fuses, discolored, warm or sparking outlets or burning smells coming from any appliances, call an electrician right away.
Between 2009-2013, 9,300 homes fires occurred due to candles. This resulted in $374 million in property damage. 1/3 of these fires happened in a bedroom. Never leave a candle unattended. Blow them out if you leave a room or go to sleep. Never leave kids alone with a candle and keep it at least a foot away from anything flammable. Alternatively, you can use flameless, battery operated candles or flashlights if you lose power.
There are so many things we can do to help prevent fires, but sometimes they can still happen. SERVPRO of Cudahy/St. Francis can help you with the next steps. Even if you are looking for a shoulder to lean on or advice, we can help point you in the right direction. We know how devastating and emotional a fire in your home can be and we are always here to help.