Fire Proofing Your Home
According to The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), one residential fire was reported every 86 seconds in 2014. It was estimated to have cost $9.8 billion in damages while claiming a staggering 2,860 human lives. While those statistics are sobering, structural fires and civilian casualties have been on the decline for the past three decades. The success of smoke detection technology is part of the trend in fire reduction, as well as retrofitting structures to be fire resistant. Protect your home and loved ones with these easy tips and learn about the best and latest options in fireproofing.
Three out of five home fire deaths have resulted from either the absence of a smoke alarm or its failure to operate. Smoke alarms are a low-cost simple step that saves lives.
Follow these guidelines for installing smoke alarms in your house:
- Having smoke alarms installed on every level of your house, in each bedroom, and outside of sleeping areas cuts the chance of dying in a house fire in half.
- Do not install smoke detectors in attics, garages, or where the temperature can fall below 32 degrees or exceed 100 degrees.
- Do not install smoke alarms in bathrooms; the steam can set of nuisance alarms.
- When installing smoke alarms in the kitchen, place 20 feet or further from the range to avoid nuisance alarms. People are tempted to disconnect the alarm or remove the battery if the alarm becomes a nuisance.
- It’s important to remember to test them every month to make sure they are operating correctly.
The NFPA ranks cooking equipment as the number one cause of home structure fires. Do not leave a kitchen appliance in use, especially the range, unattended. Take common sense precautions such as making sure equipment is turned off and only using it as directed by the manufacturer. Be careful to keep combustibles, like pot holders and linens, away from all heat sources. It only takes a few minutes for a small grease fire to become uncontrollable.
The following suggestions will help ensure that cooking remains a safe and enjoyable activity:
- Heat the oil gradually to the temperature that you need for frying or sauteing.
- Pay close attention when frying. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil begins to smell, turn off the burner and remove the pan.
- Add food to the pan slowly to avoid splattering
- Keep a lid nearby in case of a fire in the pan. Placing a lid on a small frame can extinguish it. If you don’t feel comfortable covering with the lid, get everyone out of the house and call the fire department.
- Never try to put our a grease fire with water. This can cause the fire to double or more in size.
- Keep a dry chemical fire extinguisher in the kitchen that is designed to handle grease fires.
FEMA estimates that 2,900 fires every year can be attributed on clothes dryers, costing $35 million in property loss. The number one risk factor is a failure to maintain a clean vent pipe. Always clean the lint filter before and after every load of laundry. Once a year, make sure there is nothing restricting the vent pipe. To clear the pipe, remove the outside vent cover and use a lint brush with an adjustable handle to remove lint and debris. If a mechanical problem is suspected, call your locally trusted contractor for help.
Candle manufacturing in the U.S. is a multibillion-dollar enterprise with an estimated $2 billion in sales annually. Due to popularity, it should come as no surprise that 7 out of 10 households use candles. Since they are so prevalent it can be easy to become unguarded. However, it’s important to practice extra precaution around an open flame.
When using a candle remember the following safety tips:
- Blow out all candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Avoid using candles in bedrooms.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can ignite. More than half of candle fires have started from having something, such as clothing or curtains, too close to the flame.
- Only use candle holders that are sturdy and not likely to get knocked over.
- Never burn a candle all the way down. Make sure you extinguish the flame before it reaches the bottom of the holder.
- Do not use candles if medical oxygen is used in the home.
- Be mindful when lighting candles. Make sure hair is tied back and clothing is away from the flame.
Fire Departments responded to an average of 47,820 residential fires every year (between 2007-2011) due to electrical causes. Understanding the basics of how your electrical system works is essential. If the home is older than 40 years, it’s important to have a licensed electrician do an inspection. Outdated tube and knob wiring must be replaced and updated due to safety concerns such as fraying insulation, improper alterations, and the lack of a proper ground. These pose a significant fire hazard. Install advanced electrical safety technology , such as GFCI’s and AFCI’s if not already located in your house.
During the cold months, space heaters can be an economical blessing. When purchasing a heater, take into consideration where it will be used. Will it be heating a small space or only used in emergency situations? For safety purposes, an electrical space heater is a better choice than fuel burning models. Certain units will shut down under certain circumstances for safety purposes. According to Traveler’s Insurance, these are the conditions you should look for:
According to Traveler’s Insurance, these are the conditions you should look for:
In addition, keep heaters out of bathrooms or any area where water could come in contact with the unit. Also, all flammables should be kept at least 3 feet away from the heater.
Rebuilding After Disaster
Rebuilding has been a daunting reality for many people who have had their homes devastated by wildfires. In the midst of tragedy, there is a resilience and the hope for building better. Fire-resistant building materials are improving. Fiber cement siding is a popular choice since they can be molded to look like wood and carry a Class A fire rating. Instead of wood, insulated concrete forms (IFC’s), are used more widely in residential use now. They have been shown to withstand a fire for up to four hours. Traditional windows should be replaced with fire-resistant alternatives like framed steel or aluminum. A metal entry door is also recommended by fire-prevention specialists.
Areas prone to wildfires, like California or Colorado, must have equally fire-resistant roofing. Having non-flammable siding and block won’t mean much with a combustible roof. There are many options available, such as eco-friendly recycled rubber tile, which is a budget saver and meets strict standards. Metal, slate, and clay tile are also durable choices that won’t ignite.
Landscaping isn’t the most obvious but it can make a big difference in fire-prevention. Proper management of plants and other materials can reduce the opportunity for a fire to grow and expand. The condition of the plant is just as important as the species. Firewise Communities provides a comprehensive list on choosing the right plants for your area and how to take care of them.
Here is what you can do now to start fireproofing your yard:
- Get rid of dry vegetation and replace with fire-retardant succulents, like aloe and euphorbias.
- Avoid planting large bushes or trees within 15 feet from your house.
- In the Fall, make sure to clean up dead leaves and pine needles and keep the gutters clear of debris.
Through research and knowledge, household fires can continue to be on the decline. Being prepared can give you confidence for your future. If you need additional assistance with fireproofing your home, contact your local and trusted Toledo area contractors at American Builders.