October is known as Fire Safety month, and for good reasons! With the weather cooling down, we turn on our furnaces and fire up our fireplaces to keep the chill at bay. And as comfy and cozy as those fires and furnaces can be, not doing the proper maintenance before facilitating them can become catastrophic! Therefore, having a fire safety plan and starting some much-needed fire safety maintenance is crucial. According to the National Fire Protection Association(N.F.P.A.), a fire department responded to a fire somewhere in the U.S. every 23 seconds in 2021.
To get you started, we have compiled some recommended fire prevention measures.
So don't delay; read below to learn what kind of planning there needs to be done!
Practice A Home Fire Drill
It's never fun to think about a potential fire in the home. However, planning and practicing a fire safety escape plan together as a family could help save a life. It is recommended by The U.S. Fire Administration (U.S.F.A.) that you strategize two ways out of every room in your house. Be sure to include a designated meeting place in front of your home to regather with your loved ones. During this time of planning and practicing, it is also essential to discuss a few more important facts:
1. Do not return to the home to retrieve anything you may have forgotten. Yes, ANYTHING.
2. Practice getting down low while moving towards your exit if smoke is present.
3. Draw up and hang up a fire exit strategy for your own home. Explain this to everyone in your home, having each exit and pathway clearly marked. (Click here for a free printout to create your fire exit plan)
Practicing home fire safety drills twice a year prepares you and keeps you safe from a potential house fire. In addition, being prepared with confidence allows empowerment to bloom because you and your family will know what to do in the case of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a house fire.
(Click here to access a fun firetruck holdup activity for kids ages 3-7. A fun and educational way to reinforce the importance of fire safety with your kids.)
Change Your Air Filters
Winter is coming, and that means a rise in the use of furnaces across the nation. It is likely you have build-up on an air filter if it's been over three months since the furnace was used. Having build-up on filters increases the chances of a house fire. Changing your air filter is super easy and a significant precaution everyone should take to keep our homes safe. Also, replacing your air filter every three months with HVAC filters will keep the air quality in your home fresh and help cut that monthly bill as well!
Clean Out Your Fireplace
Everyone loves the ambiance and warmth that radiates out of a fireplace but keeping it under control is key to embracing it without a major mishap! You should do the following things before enjoying such winter comfort.
• Monitor your chimney and clean it regularly to eliminate creosote build-up.
• Clean your fireplace regularly by removing any ash or debris from the fireplace floor.
• Inspect the gas lines if you have a gas fireplace. Make sure there are no dents, holes, or other damage done to the line. (You can also contact your local gas department to inspect the line.)
Routinely Test Smoke Alarms
Making sure your batteries are charged and your smoke alarm is in working order is an essential routine you will want to stay on top of! It is recommended by the U.S. Fire Administration to test your smoke alarm once a month and change the batteries twice a year. It is also recommended that you replace the alarm itself every 10 years.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand
If a fire has gotten too big or out of control, it's not worth the risk of hurting yourself or your loved ones by trying to extinguish the fire on your own. Instead, you will want to evacuate the house immediately and call 911.
However, a fire extinguisher is essential when tackling small and contained fires at their beginning stages; therefore, every home should have at least one. In addition, having one near your garage, kitchen, fireplace, or anywhere likely for a fire to break out is recommended.
Also, don't forget to teach everyone in your household how to use it! We recommend the P.A.S.S. method:
Pull- Pull the pin.
Aim- Aim the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze- Squeeze the trigger where you pulled the pin out while squeezing it slowly and evenly.
Sweep- Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering all the areas the fire may have spread to.
Inspect heating equipment
Inspecting your heating equipment can drastically reduce your chances of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.), heating equipment (including space heaters, fireplaces, and central heating systems) is the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Therefore, following up with a few easy maintenance routines is paramount. For example, remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to sleep for the night. Or setting a yearly reminder to have your chimneys and heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.
Again, these are just some ways to keep your home safe from fires. To find out more information on fire safety and what you can do to protect yourself and your family, please click here to learn more.
*To find out more information regarding fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, click here.