Home fires in the US cost an estimated $11.6 billion in damaged property in 2014. in the US. What’s worse, they were responsible for the death of over 3,200 people and the injury of nearly 16,000 more.
Keeping your home and family safe from fire is of paramount importance – for obvious reasons – which is why it’s worth the time, effort, and money to do whatever you can to fireproof your home to avoid becoming a statistic. And the good news is, most fires can be prevented with a few key steps.
Here are 8 ways you can protect your home – and those within it – from falling prey to a house fire.
1. Install Smoke Alarms
One of the most important features that your home should have are functioning smoke alarms. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 940 deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms every year, and another 510 deaths happen in fires where smoke alarms are installed but fail to function.
Scary stuff, and totally preventable too. Not only should every floor in your home have a smoke alarm installed, each of them should be checked on a regular basis to make sure they work.
2. Check For Faulty Electrical Wiring
Electrical wiring is one of the main culprits behind home structure fires in the US. Whether you live in an old home, or are considering buying one, it’s always a good idea to hire a licensed electrician to inspect all the wiring to make sure the previous technician didn’t do a shoddy job, or that no wires are damaged from rodents. If any faulty wiring is detected, it should be fixed right away.
3. Don’t Overload the Electrical Sockets
Electrical fires aren’t entirely restricted to wiring that’s on the other side of the drywall. Many electrical fires start because of electrical sockets that are overloaded with plug-ins. In fact, most electrical fires are the result of electrical appliances.
Don’t overload your electrical sockets, especially with appliances that use a ton of electricity to operate. And unplug them when they’re not in use, whether it’s before you go to bed at night or leave for holidays.
4. Mind the Candles
Candles create a cozy ambience, but if you don’t tend to them, they’re nothing more than a major fire hazard. This is especially true if you’ve got young kids or pets running around the house, who can easily knock them over.
If you do light up a candle or two, make sure you blow them out before you leave the room, even if you’re just going to be gone for a couple of minutes. All it takes is a second for the candle’s flame to make contact with a surface and ignite a dangerous house fire.
5. Keep the Dryer’s Lint Trap Clear
That seemingly harmless little piece of mesh in your dryer can actually be a fire hazard if you don’t clean it out. You’d be amazed at how much lint collects in the trap after every load is dried. In fact, you’ll swear that’s where your missing socks are when you see the pile-up of lint on this filter.
A clogged trap can cause the dryer to overheat, and thereby start a fire. So get into the habit of cleaning the lint trap out after every load of laundry to drastically reduce the odds of setting the house aflame.
6. Stock Your Home With Fire Extinguishers
If a fire does ensue, your first line of defense is a fire extinguisher. But it won’t do much good if you’ve got only one in the house, and you can’t remember where you put it. Make sure you outfit your home with at least two or three (preferably one on each floor), and put them in easy-to-access spots where you can quickly grab them when they’re needed.
Just make sure that one of them is in the kitchen, which tends to be the spot where they’re most frequently required. And be sure to make a note of their expiration dates so they can be replaced as necessary.
7. Never Leave the Stove Unattended
Whether or not you’ve got a toddler roaming about the home, it’s still a good idea to keep a close watch on whatever it is you’ve got cooking on the stovetop. If the pan or pot catches fire, you’ll be there to deal with it.
But rather than throwing water on it (which is a bad idea), put some baking soda or a damp cloth over top if the fire is not out of control. You should also try to shut the heat source off and remove the pan from the burner safely using an oven mitt.
If these solutions aren’t possible, grab that fire extinguisher to put the fire out before it has a chance to spread.
8. Use Fire-Resistant Carpets
There are so many things in your home that can cause a fire to spread really quickly, including your carpets. This is especially true for wall-to-wall carpeting, considering how much area they cover. The major culprits are those that are made with wool and synthetic fibers. If you insist on having carpeting in your home, go for fire-resistant versions to slow the spread of a fire should one occur.
Fireproofing your home is pretty easy when you think about it. Considering the valuables that you’re protecting, it’s worth every second and every penny. And as if that wasn’t reason enough, fireproofing measures can even shave a few bucks off of your home insurance premiums.