No one likes to think about the possibility of their home and possessions going up in flames. But not thinking about it could prove to be a costly and potentially tragic oversight.
That’s why National Fire Prevention Week was created by presidential proclamation by Calvin Coolidge in 1925, and continues to this day under the sponsorship of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Many people aren’t aware that Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871. The week was designed to observe that fire’s anniversary as a way to keep the public informed about the importance of prevention.
This year’s observance is October 9-15, but as any safety official will tell you, awareness should be a year-round effort. We’ve compiled a list of tips on how to keep your home fire-safe, both indoors and outside.
Have a home fire escape plan
- Get everyone in your household involved to create and agree on an escape plan if a fire should occur. Have them inspect all possible exits and escape routes.
- If you have children, consider drawing a floor plan of the home showing two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.
- Teach kids the emergency phone number for the fire department.
- Mark the location of each smoke alarm, and push the test button to make sure each alarm is working.
- Pick a meeting place outside, preferably in front of your home.
Smoke alarms give you time to get out
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
- Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
- Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. Try to use both types of alarms in the home.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
- Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years.
Be cautious in the kitchen
- If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- When simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly.
- Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire–such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains–away from the stovetop.
- Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property
- Use a fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, is not growing, everyone has exited the home, the fire department has been called or is being called, and the room is not filled with smoke.
- For the home, select a multipurpose extinguisher that can be used on all types of home fires and large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
- Choose an extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Install fire extinguishers close to an exit, and keep your back to a clear exit when using the device to allow an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
Use care around the barbecue
- Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house, preferably further.
- Clean your grill regularly. Grease is a major cause of flare-ups.
- Check for gas leaks before each grilling session.
- Keep decorations away from your grill.
- Keep a fire extinguisher within a few steps of your grill.
- Don’t overload your grill with food, especially fatty meats. If too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby items on fire.
Like what you see here? Sign up for more! Our free e-newsletter informs you of listings in your community, insider real estate tips, the latest in home trends, and more.