October is Fire Prevention Month. Each year, fires kill more Americans than any other natural disaster. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 80% of fire deaths occur in residences. While no home can ever be completely fireproof, there are many steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire for your family and your home:
- Smoke detectors are the most important part of your home fire safety! Make sure your home has smoke detectors at least in every bedroom, and test them frequently.
- Use appliances wisely. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that an appliance needs to be shut off and either repaired or replaced. Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Never overload circuits or extension cords. Don’t place cords or wires under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas.
- Portable heaters need at least three feet of space from any combustible materials.
- Fireplaces should be used with fire screens, and chimneys should have annual cleanings.
- Have at least two fire extinguishers in your home, with one in a designated place in the kitchen. Cooking fires are the leading cause of both home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S.
- Extinguish candles before going to bed or when leaving a room.
- If smoking indoors, always use an ashtray and exercise caution. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S.
- Properly inspect and maintain your home’s heating system. Poorly maintained heating systems cause many fires.
- Have a plan to get out of your home if it catches on fire and have a common meeting place outside. Practice your escape so everyone knows what to do!
These are just a few ways that you can make your home a safer place from fire. More information can be found on the U.S. Fire Administration’s website, http://www.usfa.fema.gov/, or by contacting your local fire department.