10 Ways to Fireproof Your Home

BY NANCY MATTIA ON JANUARY 30TH, 2017

One-third of home fires started by candles occur in the bedroom. Place candles twelve inches from anything that can get burned, and never leave the room with an active candle.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), most home fires are preventable. Adopting smart cooking behaviors and being vigilant about potential fire hazards in the home can help keep you and your family safe.

1. Never leave the kitchen while cooking

Though it’s easy to get distracted, you should stay put once you start cooking. “Keep an eye on what you fry,” says Judy Comoletti, NFPA’s division manager for public education. Unattended cooking, she says, is one of the leading causes of home fires in the U.S. Cooking oil can overheat and ignite, and if no one’s paying attention, the result could be tragic. Play it safe and stay in the kitchen when grilling, boiling, or broiling food, too.

2. Don’t smoke indoors

Smoking in your home means there’s a greater chance of leaving a cigarette unattended, where it could fall into a sofa cushion and smolder. Smoke outside and use an ashtray instead of flicking ashes on the grass or mulch, which could catch fire.

3. Position portable space heaters correctly

Placement is crucial. “Heaters shouldn’t be less than three feet away from anything that can burn like curtains, furniture or bedding,” Comoletti says. Turn the heater off and unplug it when you leave the room or go to bed.

4. Use fire extinguishers wisely

If there’s a fire in your home, the best course of action is to leave immediately and call the fire department. For small fires that aren’t spreading and produce small amounts of smoke, you may try to put it out with a fire extinguisher. Comoletti says to have everyone else in the house leave, have someone call the fire department and to ensure your back is facing a clear exit.

5. Pay attention to electrical malfunctions

A blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker could be a warning sign that something’s amiss. Call in a qualified electrician to check your equipment for overheating and sparking, which can cause a fire. Other red flags: discolored or warm outlets, flickering or dimming lights or a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance.

6. Install and maintain smoke detectors

The NFPA advises having a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement, and inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button, and replace them every 10 years.

7. Watch burning candles

“One-third of at-home candle fires start in the bedroom,” Comoletti says. Reduce the risk by placing candles at least twelve inches from anything that can get burned, including linens and pets. Always blow out candles when you leave the room or your home, or go to bed.

8. Keep floors free and clear

If a fire breaks out in your home, you’ll want to leave as quickly as possible. You’ll lose time, though, if there’s clutter (shoes, clothing, toys) blocking the stairways and exits. The tidier your home, the faster you can escape.

9. Clean out the dryer lint trap

Make it a habit to always remove debris from the lint trap before loading the dryer. “Periodically check the exhaust vent for lint, too, and clean if necessary,” Comoletti says. Don’t leave the dryer on when leaving home or going to bed.

10. Be wary of extension cords

If a cord is under a rug or furniture or tacked to a wall, the insulation on the cord could be compromised or become overheated and cause a fire. Instead of relying on extension cords, have additional receptacles installed so lamps, appliances, and TVs can be plugged directly into a wall.

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