October is National Fire Prevention Month! Is your home protected? Most everyone has some semblance of fire prevention in their home, even if it is just a few fire alarms with aging batteries. While “stop-drop-and-roll” may be all you needed to know as a child, as an adult it’s time to step up your game. Fortunately, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about effective fire prevention in this article—complete with a few tips from our very own Paul Burke, who spent 35 years as a firefighter!
Fire Alarms: Location, Location, Location
A working fire alarm is the crux of every fire prevention plan. According to the National Fire Prevention Agency, a working smoke alarm can lower your chances of dying in a reported fire by 50%. Yes, the beeping when the batteries are low can get annoying, but one bulk purchase of batteries just for your fire alarm will ensure you’re protected.
Paul Says: “Smoke alarms obviously work and are designed to save lives. If you have battery smoke alarms, change the batteries every time you move the clocks forward or back. If you have a monitored burglar alarm you want to include the smoke detectors. That way if you’re not home the alarm company can notify the fire department if there is a fire in your house. A fire doubles in size every minute so the sooner the fire department is notified the less damage you’ll have.”
The placement of the smoke alarms is critical to their effectiveness. There needs to be a detector on every floor of your home, in each sleeping area and outside each sleeping area. You can’t predict a fire, but correctly placed, working smoke alarms are the next best thing.
It’s also important to note that every floor should have a working CO2 monitor. CO2 has no smell, making these monitors the only way to detect it. Thousands of people lose their lives every year to this “silent killer.” Get a monitor, rest easy.
Paul Says: “Obviously you want one in the basement near the boiler. You want to have a CO2 detector on every floor.”
Take the time to create an escape plan with your family. Make sure you know which exit is the closest to where you sleep and create a designated meeting point for all house members that is a safe distance from your home. If an unexpected fire occurs, it will be hard to think clearly amidst the frenzy. Having a plan could make all the difference. Make sure no one forgets by practicing the plan at least twice a year.
With everyone becoming more and more connected to the digital landscape, homes are consuming an increasing amount of power. Remember to use surge protectors, keep electronics such as space heaters away from curtains and fabric, and be wary of halogen lights, which have been known to ignite nearby flammable material. You should never leave halogen lights on when you are not at home.
Paul Says: “If you have a room where there are a lot of electronics, you may not be required to put a smoke detector in, but that’s where you should put it. My answer is put it in every single room.”
If you live in a home that is particularly susceptible to fire, you may want to consider a few additional measures. Home sprinkler systems are becoming more common and are surprisingly cost effective when installed only in high risk areas of the home (kitchen, fireplaces, etc).
Paul Says: “Make sure any fireplaces or wood/pellet stoves are thoroughly cleaned before they are used. This is the time of year where it’s about to get cold at night. If you burn a lot of green wood you need to clean them more than once per year.”
It’s also worth noting that smokers need to be extra careful of home fires. It sounds obvious, but you should never smoke in bed! Whether in bed, in your backyard or driving your car, carelessly discarded cigarettes are the leading cause of fires in the United States.
This National Fire Prevention Month, take the time to make sure your home and family are prepared for an emergency. Stop-drop-and-roll is only the beginning. These tips will ensure that you’re prepared for any unexpected fires.