Too often lives and personal possessions are lost due to fires that could easily have been prevented. A proactive approach to safeguard your home is crucial and in most cases, only requires a few minutes of your time. Learn how to keep your family and home safe and reduce your fire risk.
While many do meet their fire codes and install the right number of smoke detectors and also place them where recommended, it's easy to forget that a dead battery renders your alarm useless. Make a plan or set a particular date/month to check/test your smoke alarms and change batteries on a regular basis. Your life may depend on it.
Read more about smoke alarms
How to Install a Smoke Alarm - Video
Creative Way to Test a Smoke Alarm
How to Test Smoke Alarms by Allstate
Many fires are started accidentally each year from unsafe candle use. To reduce the risk of fire when using candles, you must use safe, stable and secure candle holders. That's the first step. Where you position the candles is also important. Never place a candle on a shelf unit, leave the room while it is lit or allow curtains, fabric or flammable material to come into close contact with a lit candle.
Read More About Candle Safety and Safe Candle Holders
Candle Warmers - Safe Candle Alternatives
Dryer Lint Filter Hazard
The second dryer-related area where lint can build up and that requires lint removal on a regular basis is the exterior dryer vent. Lint can clog this area too, preventing air from flowing through. Removal is usually pretty quick, simple remove the small plastic screen and take the lint out. There's a bonus besides preventing fires, you'll also have a more energy-efficient dryer.
How to Clear the Dryer Exterior Vent
Wood as a Heating Source. The more you are proactive with care and maintenance, the safer your home will be.
- Clean the chimney regularly to reduce hazardous creosote build-up. How often depends on how much you use the stove, but at the very least once a year.
- Use care when starting a fire in it. Do it safely.
- Ensure a carbon monoxide detector is installed nearby.
- Always have a professional install your stove to ensure all clearances are properly met and that the flue is installed to local codes. Some insurance companies will not insure a fireplace or heat stove that has not been installed by a professional and/or has not been inspected and approved by one.
- Only buy an airtight certified wood heat stove. Look for that rating; it's often on the back of the stove.
- Once clearances are approved and you're set to go, always keep flammable materials away and outside of this clearance zone. That goes for the wood box or kindling basket; carpeting in the area, or clothing that is set out to dry.
- Always cool down the stove before clearing ash and because clinkers can be present hours after your last fire, use a metal pail for the ashes and dispose in a safe location.
- Wood Heat Stove Buying Tips
- What's a Clinker?
- What NOT to Burn in your Heat Stove
- Wood Pellet Heat Stove or Insert Buying Tips
8. Use Only UL Certified Electrical Appliances, Cords, Power StripsBuying approved kitchen appliances is not often a problem, especially with known brands. Where we often do let our guard down is when we purchase cheap power strips or electrical cords that are not approved for use, from budget retailers or flea markets. All appliances or electrical products should be approved for consumer use and should be UL listed.
Unfortunately, there are lots of counterfeit products out there so familiarizing yourself with what that UL seal looks like, is a good plan to ensure products you buy and use in your home are safe. Heed the old adage regarding price - if it's too good to be true - stay clear of it.
When it comes to electrical cords, it's important to never use one that is not rated for the particular use you have in mind, or which could overload your electrical system. We tend to use 'octopus' style electrical connectors without thought to the consequences, assuming that the more cords you can connect, the better. That can be very unsafe. You should limit electrical cord use, never string them across traffic areas, nor hide them under rugs, or create any hazardous electric cord jungle. And contrary to public opinion, electrical cords are not a one-type-fits-all product.
Keep in mind that even though a certain product has been approved for use, a faulty aspect can surface or a hazard noted that prompts a recall. Unfortunately, this does happen all too often with household appliances. Product recalls are issued to give consumers a heads up so they can safeguard their family and home. A wise person will heed these product recalls and follow instructions given.
Making Product Safety a Priority
What UL listed means
What to do if Your Appliance is Recalled
Appliance Cord Safety - Make Sure Cords are Safe
How to Handle Appliance Problems
9. Let a Professional Do itWhen in doubt or if you lack the knowledge and training to install fuel-burning appliances, update your electrical system or hard-wire an appliance, let a professional technician do it. You might save a little money doing it yourself, but if it's not done according to electrical, fire or building codes, you may have a lot of grief later. And it may create a hazardous situation in your home, something that is totally preventable.
It does not have to be elaborate, but making a brief inventory of your home's content can be most helpful at a time when you are reeling from a disaster and struggling to think of such things. Some people find it very helpful to make the list but also to take a photo of each room from every angle. That often helps to fine tune such a list, should you ever need it. Think of this as a good thing to do and hopefully something you'll never need to use. Like a fire extinguisher - it affords peace of mind even though you might never use it.
And where do you keep such a list for safekeeping? Some keep important paper documents in the freezer; others store back-up drives and such in a local safety deposit box with other valuables. With 'cloud computing', saving electronic files offsite shouldn't be an issue, as long as the destination is assumed to be safe.