October is Fire Prevention Month. With the coming holiday season and cooler winter months, there is an increased risk of house fires, due to the use of candles, holiday lights, space heaters, and other potential fire hazards. it’s important to take steps to protect your family and one of your most valuable assets – your home.
Image courtesy of NFPA
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), fire departments are called to a fire every 23 seconds in the US. Of those, a “home structure” fire occurs every 86 seconds. This results in a fire-related injury every 34 minutes, and a death every 2 hours and 40 minutes. The cost of fire deaths and injuries, as well as property damage, are a major drain on family resources, due to loss of income and housing.
The NFPA has concluded that the two most frequent causes of home structure fires are cooking equipment and heating equipment. While the number of smoking-related fires is relatively low compared to other causes, they are by far the most frequent cause of fire-related deaths, likely because many of those fires begin while victims are asleep.
Image courtesy of NFPA
What Can Homeowners Do?
One of the primary factors in surviving a house fire is a functioning smoke detector. It is recommended that you test your smoke detectors twice per year, and replace the batteries at the same time. A good way to remember is to get in the habit of checking your equipment during the twice-yearly time changes. When the clocks “fall back” on November 6, mark your calendar to do a fire safety check, then again when clocks “spring forward” in March. You should also check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are still in working order.
Just a note: Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers do expire. The life span of a typical smoke detector is 10 years. Fire extinguishers will have an expiration date printed on the label. If you are unsure of when your smoke detector was manufactured, you can usually find the manufacture date on the label on the underside of the unit. You can check this when you remove the unit to replace the batteries.
You should also make a family escape plan and review it with all family members on a regular basis.
Of course, the best course of action is to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. This means being diligent about safety in your home when it comes to operating appliances, using extension cords, or using candles and fire places. Here are just a few of the many tips that can help you prevent a fire from occurring:
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Don’t leave burners unattended while cooking.
- Keep flammable materials at least 3-feet away from space heaters.
- Don’t plug in any cords that have missing insulation or signs of fraying.
- Don’t overload extension cords, power strips, and outlets.
- Only plug one heating appliance into a single outlet, and never plug them into extension cords.
- Don’t leave lighted holiday decorations on overnight.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once per year.
- Change your furnace filters according to manufacturer recommendations.
- Don’t leave candles unattended.
- Don’t smoke in bed.
For these and more tips, check out the numerous resources on the NFPA website.
We want to keep our friends and clients safe and enjoying their homes for many years to come. We encourage you to contact us at DavisTeam@KW.com or visit our website at www.eastgeorgiahomes.com to find out more about how we can help you make your next move a rewarding and positive experience.