As fall arrives and we’re spending more time indoors and, at least in the Twin Cities, turning our furnaces and heaters back on, we wanted to share these fire safety tips for around the home from our Chelsea our guest blogger from the Fire Safety Store.
According to the latest public data, the incidence of fires in 2013-2014 increased by 10 per cent in a possible reversal of the general downward trend over the last decade. These alarming statistics make it even more prudent to safeguard your home, install proper safety systems in place, and observe appropriate behavior in order to minimize the risk for your property and loved ones. Here are some tips to follow.
Smoke alarms remain the top fire safety appliance, and their lack is responsible for almost 40 per cent of fire-related deaths in the United Kingdom. To have your early warning system in full order, install smoke detectors in every room of your home, including stairwells, and check the batteries at regular intervals. Most new models have battery-level monitors built in, so they will peep when battery power depletes.
Having smoke detectors in the kitchen carries a risk of false alarms, should your dish be extra smokey. However, this is no reason to forego securing your cooking space. Instead, go ahead and have a proper smoke alarm fitted in your kitchen. To avoid accidentally activating it, invest in a good exhaust hood over your stove and maintain it well for optimal performance.
(Editors Note: All new homes in Minnesota require interconnected smoke alarms on every level, which sound quickly and don’t require homeowner battery replacement. This is the single most important fire safety feature in your home so if you don’t have a new home, make sure you choose, install and maintain smoke detectors in good working order.)
Stovetops are the culprit in more than a third of all house fires. Whether you use gas, electric, or induction setups, make sure you are always present while food is cooking and you devote your undivided attention to the process. Almost all kitchen fires arise from unattended dishes burning up.
In the event of a grease fire, turn off the burner immediately and make a quick judgment call: if the fire is relatively small, cover the pan with an appropriately sized lid to smother the flames. Set it aside until it cools off and the risk of the fire restarting is minimal. If you do not feel comfortable fighting the grease fire yourself, walk away, close the kitchen door to contain the flames, and contact the emergency services.
Fire doors and escape routes
The average Fire Department response time in the UK has remained stable at 7.4 minutes for the past few years. In the Twin Cities, response times range from 4.5 minutes in Bloomington to 10.7 in Lino Lakes with more rural areas. While you are waiting for emergency professional assistance, you have two options: to stay put or to run. To be able to remain in a burning building and still be safe, fire doors are a must. They are thicker and heavier than regular doors, and both their frames and leaves are composed of various fire- and smoke-resistant components which allow them to sustain direct flame impact for an extended period of time – enough for the fire brigade to arrive and extinguish the flames.
Alternatively, to escape, you need to have a clear escape route in mind, and you should arrange for it to be navigable at all times. This means not cluttering up corridors and stairwells and keeping exit points easily accessible, even under duress. It is not an overkill to post an escape route plan in each room of your home, just so you can remind yourself of the quickest way out if panic sets in.
Candles are the naked flame source most often used at home, and, unsurprisingly, account for about one-third of fires. To minimize the risk of accidents, keep candles in designated candleholders, place them on stable sturdy surfaces a minimum of one foot away from other potentially flammable objects, and put them out before they have burnt all the way down to their base to prevent overspill and uncontrolled flame. Never leave lit candles unattended, and avoid lighting them in the bedroom or in other settings which predispose you to fall asleep with the flame still on.
Wood burning fireplaces and stoves are another source of flames that should always be monitored. You’ll want to make sure your chimney is kept clean and you use the right fuel. Click here for additional tips about fireplace safety.
Special rules for smokers
Smoking immediately puts the home in higher fire hazard. To counteract the odds, try to smoke outside the premises as much as possible and always put out the cigarette butts fully. Dispose of them in sturdy, deep ashtrays and never discard them in nature – mulch, flowerpots, or leaves are all flammable enough to cause an accident. Douse cigarette butts in water or sand to ensure they are fully out before dispensing of them.