Beat the Heat: Fire Prevention Tips

Jaime Netzer
October/November 2007
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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.



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Post a comment below.

 

Tom Duchesneau_1
12/4/2007 12:00:00 AM
Oh, I almost forgot. Get your house heater, whether it be gas, oil or nuclear, (he he) cleaned and serviced>before it stops working.It will cost less than having a cold failure, freezing pipes, plumber's costs, asphyxiation from flue problems (CO), or fire repair costs to your house. Not to mention the expense of living elsewhere during the repairs.Not a good thing!

Tom Duchesneau_1
12/4/2007 12:00:00 AM
Another thing to be careful of, especially in the case of working in the basement because of the cold weather, is oily, greasy, solvent or gasoline soaked rags.Never ball them up and throw them in a trash can.They will heat up and start a fire through spontaneous combustion.Take them outside and spread them on a clothesline or tree branch to let them dry out.I suppose, afterwards, you may launder them if you want to use them again.Recommended is storing them in a metal canister (special, usually painted red) with a spring or gravity loaded cover, to seal out air-oxygen.Happy Holidays!

Gerald Abshire
11/9/2007 12:00:00 AM
The National Fire Protection Assocation recomends an annual inspection of all wood and gas burning appliances, To make sure that they are vented properly and that there are no obstructions. Every yearnumerous lives are lost needlessly because of unsafe venting systems. That is not counting thhundreds of thousands of dollars in home damage. So,I would advise that you spend a little money and have your venting system inspected. Besides, isn't your family worth it?

Robert Leinbach
10/24/2007 12:00:00 AM
Pretty good article but there are a few more things that should be done:Regardless of the type of smoke alarm, test them at least once a month by pushing the "Test" button.Smoke alarms are life saving devices, but if the family doesn't know how to get out of the house....Practice fire drills every six months. Talking about how to get out is all most families do. This isn't enough! Discuss how each person will get out and then actually go through the steps. Practice doesn't make perfect-it makes habit. You need to have done it before the emergency happens. For those with small children, keep in mind that children-usually in the 2-4 year old range-simply do not wake up easily. You need to plan to have someone assigned to pick them up and carry them out.Sleep with bedroom doors closed. This slows the spread of poisionous gases and heat.Once outside, call 9-1-1 and nobody goes back in (even for the dog) until the FD says it's OK.Kitchen safety: for a grease fire, use a pan lid, bread board, cookie sheet, or another pan to smother the fire-and then turn off the stove so it can cool. (Don't use water, salt, flour, or anything else!) If you can't put the fire out, close the door, get out and call 9-1-1.Candles: one of the biggest causes of home fires, especially in the winter months. Never leave the room or house with an unattended burning candle inside.








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