There’s no way to guarantee that your abode will ever be 100 percent fireproof, but it goes without saying that everyone should want to take whatever preventive measures they can. By the U.S. Fire Administration’s estimates, more than 3,400 deaths and 17,500 injuries occur due to fire every year in this country, and that’s not even taking into account all the fire damage caused to property. Meanwhile the American Red Cross reports that fires end more lives in America than all other types of natural disasters put together.
But there are plenty of simple steps you can take to improve the odds against you, your family, and your home falling victim to a fire.
Don’t Smoke Indoors
Clearly, smoking at all can make you more likely to develop all kinds of nasty health ailments. But smoking indoors, especially in a bedroom, greatly improves the odds of a still-lit cigarette butt finding its way onto flammable material. In fact, the National Fire Prevention Association cites smoking as the number one cause of fire-related deaths.
Run a Monthly Fire Drill
Everyone knows to keep at least one smoke detector in their home, but when was the last time you heard of anyone testing their fire alarm? The USFA recommends deliberately activating your smoke alarm once a month to know if batteries, or the alarm itself, need to be replaced. In addition, it could be crucially helpful to map out potential escapes routes, and rehearse where household members should go in the event of a fire. According to the Red Cross, only a little more than a quarter of American families have gone over a fire escape plan, so you’ll immediately be better prepared than most people.
Be Careful While You Cook
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls attention to the kitchen as a place where fires hazards can occur. The agency recommends wearing short-sleeved shirts, or at least clothing that won’t leave anything dangling over a flame, while cooking. In addition, you should never take your eyes off food on a burning stove, and it’s not a good idea to leave anything flammable – towels or dish rags, for instance – near the stove.
Be Selective Where You Put Space Heaters
Electric space heaters can be a great way to cut down on your heating bills during the winter months. However, the CDC notes that you should be careful not to place them anywhere near bookshelves, waste paper baskets, or anything that could catch fire.
Educate the Young Ones
Some children enjoy playing with matches, but it’s very important that parents dissuade them from thinking of fire as a source for amusement. According to the USFA, kids are statistically more likely to need emergency services for injures or worse from fire than any other segment of the population. Make sure any matches or lighters in your home are tucked far, far away from little hands, and talk to youngsters about the dangers of fire.