According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to calls about residential fires every 86 seconds. And while firefighters are incredibly efficient and effective at their jobs, fires still result in 2,650 civilian deaths and over $7 billion in property damage each year.
Thankfully, much of the danger and destruction caused by fires is completely preventable. By exercising good fire prevention and safety habits, you can make both your home and work environments much safer. Follow these basic tips, and you’ll be well on your way.
- Make sure your space has adequate smoke alarm coverage.
This may seem like old news, but smoke alarms are a crucial and often overlooked part of any fire safety plan. Everybody knows that they’re important, but how often do you think about yours?
Roughly 50% of residential fires take place at night, when people are generally asleep. With that in mind, you should have smoke alarms on every level of your house, and at least one in every bedroom. Additionally, make a habit of checking smoke detector batteries regularly, and not only when the device notifies you that it is low. Set a reminder to click that test button, it could save your life!
2. Be Careful in the Kitchen.
Unattended cooking is by far the leading cause of residential fires, accounting for over half of all home fires in 2017. It can be tempting to leave a pot or slow cooker on while running errands or handling household tasks, but it’s safest to never leave any heating element turned on and unattended in the kitchen.
Additionally, be especially careful with deep-fryers or while executing any sort of frying, as oil is highly flammable and grease fires are extremely difficult to control.
3. Cord safety is key!
Electrical fires are another common hazard, and are very preventable. Be wary of overloading outlets or power strips with too many plugs, as power surges can not only damage electrical equipment, but also cause fires. Do not run power cords underneath carpets or across doorways where they are susceptible to damage, and be sure to dispose of any electrical devices with damaged cords.
4. Create and practice a fire escape plan.
Don’t be unprepared for a worst case scenario! Use a detailed floorplan with all doors and windows, and identify escape routes from every area in your home. Share this plan with every member of your household, and agree on a safe, easy-to-reach meeting place. Then, practice your escape plan until everyone involved can execute it safely within two minutes. In the event of an actual fire, you don’t want to be scrambling!