Beat the Heat: Fire Prevention Tips

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Just because the temperatures are falling outside doesn't mean your home can't get dangerously hot ? according to the National Fire Protection Association, December and January are the peak months for home fires. Follow these easy steps to stay safe.

Smoke Alarms
The single most important fire safety tool is the smoke alarm. Make sure yours are functioning and located in or close to sleeping areas around the house. Also:

  • There are two types of smoke alarms: ionization, which quickly detects fast-moving, flaming fire, and photoelectric, which quickly detects slow-burning, smoky fires. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends purchasing a combination alarm for best protection.

  • Pick a specific holiday or use your birthday as a reminder to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms every year.

In the Kitchen
Cooking mishaps are the leading cause of residential fires. Here's how to prevent them:

  • Never leave cooking unattended.

  • Wear short sleeves or roll up long sleeves when you're cooking.

  • Keep pot holders, curtains and towels away from the stove and other heating devices.

Home Heating/Fireplace
You'll want to heat up this winter, but not too much! Take extra care with space heaters and woodstoves. Also:

  • Keep all fireplaces and woodstoves clean, inside and out.

  • Never start a fire indoors with flammable liquid.

  • After the fire has been put out, never leave hot ashes in the home. Soak them in water and leave them in a metal bucket outside of and away from the house.

  • If you have a kerosene heater, check it to make sure it's in good working condition. Look for carbon buildup on exhaust parts of the machine.

  • Make sure that your furnace controls and emergency shut-offs are working properly, and keep trash and other combustibles away from the furnace.

For Rural Homesteaders

  • Mark the entrance to your property clearly, and know which local emergency services are available to you.

  • Thin trees and brush within 30 feet of your home.

  • Landscape your property with fire-resistant plants to stop fire from spreading quickly.

  • Follow local burning laws when burning leaves or debris.

Escape Planning
It's imperative to have a pre-determined plan in case of emergency. Route possible exits from every room of the house, and designate a family meeting point outside.

Lending a Hand
If there's a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow so firefighters can find it easily.

Check out eight more simple fire safety tips from mother earth news here, and take October, national fire safety month, to prep and test your home. With a little precaution and foresight, you can help prevent house fires and keep you and your loved ones comfortably warm this winter. Have you come across other helpful fire prevention tips? Share them in the comment section below.