There is nothing more devastating to a homeowner than a fire. From the challenge of dealing with insurance and inventorying all your items, to the trouble of trying to clean smoke and soot from your personal items. Learning how to prevent fires in your home can protect your family members, your personal items, and of course your wallet!
If you do suffer a fire in your home, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world…or even the end of your house or apartment. There are several steps you can take after a fire to make the process easier and return your home to normal. But, what’s even better than quick and efficient renovation? Not having to repair fire damage at all.
Here are seven easy home fire prevention steps that you can take to protect against these fires in the first place.
1. Own a Fire Extinguisher
It might seem simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, you’re without your first line of defense. By just owning a fire extinguisher, you greatly limit your chance of suffering a catastrophic fire. And as a bonus, your fire extinguisher purchase could lower your homeowner’s insurance.
Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home placed in a visible, easy-to-access location. Don’t worry about heat or cold—fire extinguishers are designed to be safely stored in temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many fires start off small before turning into devastating events. If you have a fire extinguisher at the ready, you are one step closer to catching fires before they can grow and saving yourself some extensive smoke and fire damage. It’s an easy, but essential, way to protect your home.
2. Be Mindful of Your Heating Systems
In general, you want to be mindful of anything in your home that produces heat, like a clothes dryer. You especially want to be mindful of your heating systems. No matter how you heat your home,—make sure that nothing flammable is near the appliances or other devices in your home that produce heat.
If you have central heating, make sure your vents and ducts are routinely cleaned, and avoid placing any flammable or potentially combustible materials near your vents. If your home is heated through radiators, don’t drape clothing over them, and make sure they don’t touch anything.
And finally, if you are using a space heater, you want to be especially careful. 79% of all deadly house fires are started by a space heater. Space heaters are warm, comforting, and convenient, but when left unattended, they can be dangerous. It’s easy for them to overheat and catch fire, or come in contact with rags, clothing, or other flammable materials.
However, you are keeping yourself warm, make sure to be mindful and follow these best practices to reduce your risk of a fire in your home.
3. Never Leave Lit Candles or Kitchen Stoves Unsupervised
As with heating devices, whenever there is anything with an open flame in your home, never leave it unsupervised. Open flames, like a lit stove, or candles, can very quickly spiral out of control, creating a massive fire event.
Of course, candles are soothing and comforting, and you need your stove to prepare your meals, so it would be foolish to suggest you avoid using them all together. Candles and stoves can be perfectly safe so long as they’re contained and, most importantly, always supervised. The moment you leave that lavender-scented candle alone to check on something in another room might be the moment a fire starts that you may be unable to put out.
4. Use Smart Home Technology
With the latest advancements in technology, there are now new smart home devices being marketed to the consumer every day. If you decide to purchase and install some home automation “smart home” devices, you can find a lot of great products that can actively protect your home from a fire.
Let’s start with the smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are a crucial safety feature for any home and should be installed on every level. Many smoke alarms are built to last for a long time (though you should be sure to check the batteries regularly) and are effective at getting you safely out of the home. However, if you’re away from home during a fire, they don’t serve much of a purpose. Smart smoke detectors can be wired to notify you wherever you are if it detects a fire and can work with your home security system to automatically notify the fire department when it notices a fire in your home.
Similar to smart smoke detectors, you can purchase smart batteries, which notify you when they are running low, allowing you to replace them before you run into an unfortunate situation of your detector running out of battery. Make sure your WiFi can handle the load in order to keep strong connectivity to your devices.
These products are great at alerting you to a fire that’s already started, but smart home technology doesn’t stop there. You can actively (and easily) install devices that prevent fires. You can purchase smart sensors for your stove that will automatically turn it off if a sensor is triggered. That’s pretty handy, since 42% of all fires are caused by cooking accidents.
Smart Plugs and Outlets
And finally, you can invest in smart plugs for all your electrical devices. These can be set on a timer or can be manually shut off by you using an app. Either way, with your devices plugged into smart plugs, you can limit the risk of any electrical fires by only allowing electricity to run through your plugs when you actually need to use them. When using smart plugs, be sure they are properly rated for the device you choose to connect them to. This is particularly important when it comes to using smart plugs with higher voltage devices.
5. Test Smoke Alarms Frequently
If you don’t want to go the “Smart Smoke Detector” route, there’s nothing wrong with that! A standard smoke alarm is a simple, but essential, tool that saves countless lives every year. And while smart batteries might solve the problem of a surprise “dead” smoke alarm, those batteries often cost more than regular batteries.
So, if you’re using a standard smoke alarm, with standard batteries, you want to make sure the alarms are working, frequently. When functioning properly, a smoke alarm can help you stop a fire before it gets too big and could save your life in the event of a fire developing in your home.
But for the smoke alarm to be able to do that, it must be working. Which is why it’s essential to regularly check your battery levels and test your smoke alarms.
6. Keep Your Stove and Oven Clean
As we said earlier, 42% of all reported fires are caused by cooking accidents, starting from your stove and oven. As you cook, various flammable oils and greases accumulate. This build up can cause the elements to combust which could easily set off and warrant a call to the fire department.
To combat this very common problem, you can prevent most home fires by simply cleaning your stove and oven regularly. By clearing these flammable residues early and often, you can limit the possibility of any flash fire starting while you’re in the kitchen.
7. Maintain (and Repair) Your Chimney and Fireplace
If your home has a fireplace, you no doubt have put it to a lot of use over the years. Curling up next to a roaring fire with a good book is one of the best ways to spend a winter night. But, not surprisingly, fireplaces and chimneys are another common cause of fires in the United States.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure your fireplace, and chimney, are both in excellent working order. As you use your fireplace, the chimney develops layers of creosote inside—a black tar-like substance made from the vapors, smoke, and ash that go through the chimney.
To remove these layers of creosote, you need to regularly clean your chimney, and make sure that it’s structurally sound—if, for example, crumbling brick is causing blockages, it could make it easier for this creosote to build up, and combust. Getting your chimney cleaned is absolutely an essential element of fire prevention.
A fireplace is a wonderful addition to any home, but if you have one, take the proper preventative precautions to ensure that your fire stays inside the fireplace, where it belongs.
Getting Help After a Fire
If you experience a fire, contact Jenkins Restorations’ 24/7 emergency line: 1.888.450.6580, and download this free guide ‘Steps After a House Fire’ to get you started. Our staff will help get your home and life back to normal. With decades of experience in fire and smoke damage restoration, we will quickly restore your property to its original condition…or better!