According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated average of 358,500 home structure fires per year, which results in thousands of injuries and billions of dollars in damage annually. At such high emotional, physical and financial costs, it’s crucial to proactively protect your home against the risk of fire. Use these fire prevention tips and home fire safety checklists from the professionals at ServiceMaster Restoreâ to keep you, your family and your home safe.
Home fire safety checklist
Use this checklist to inspect your home and help reduce your risk of fire damage:
- Create a family escape plan. Having detailed steps in place, including a list of escape routes, a safe meeting spot and ways to stay in contact with each other, can help members of the family feel prepared. That way, they can better react to and recover from a potential disaster. Assign one person (an adult or parent) to keep track of the cat or dog, so that everyone isn't looking for a beloved pet during an emergency.
- Identify at least two ways that you can exit each room in the event of a fire. Fires can block obvious escape routes. Consider other ways you’d be able to exit the home and get to safety if a fire breaks out. If there are multiple exits out of your home, make sure they're all clear of furniture and clutter.
- Practice your family escape plan at least twice a year. This will help everyone, especially young children, feel confident that they will know what to do if flames occur. Practice escaping in different rooms, different exits within each room and different parts of the day.
- Make a fire safety plan. This should include items you’d need to save if a fire strikes. For ideas on which items you’d need to save and where to store them, use our fire safety plan.
- Get a fire extinguisher. These handy tools can help put out the flames before they become uncontrollable. If you already have a fire extinguisher, inspect it for corrosion, missing pull pins, changes in the pressure gauge and expiration. If it’s in good condition, the NFPA recommends installing it close to an exit, so you can use the device while also being in a position to exit in case the fire cannot be extinguished.
- Ensure that smoke alarms are installed on every level of the home. According to the NFPA, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside of every sleeping room, as well as on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect your smoke alarms. That way, if one goes off, all systems will alarm the household of danger.
- Identify any fire hazards in and around your home. This may include appliances with faulty or broken wires, space heaters that don’t have a barrier of at least three feet between the system and other home items, candles, lint traps in the dryer, firewood, large piles of wood and more. If you find big hazards, consider completely removing them from your property to help reduce your risk of fire.
Change batteries in every smoke detector and test them to make sure they are working. This is also an important time of year to ensure your fire extinguisher is in working order. Too often they are kept tucked away and it's easy to forget to inspect them. Check for corrosion, missing pull-pins and changes in the pressure gauge.
Before cozying up by a fire, make sure your chimney has been inspected -- and before turning on a space heater, make sure there's nothing (and no one) within three feet of it. It's better to bundle up than put you and your family at risk with a premature fire or ill-placed space heater.
Fire prevention tips
After checking off each item on the home fire safety checklist, use these fire prevention tips to help prevent fires from breaking out in your home year-round:
- Replace the batteries in every smoke detector in your home once a year.
- Test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they are working properly.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years, or as needed.
- Ensure there are no frays, tears or damage to cords before plugging them in.
- Have your chimney inspected by the professionals before using your fireplace for the first time this year
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using space heaters inside your home.
- Remove the lint from your dryer after every use.
- Never overload an electrical outlet.
- Never use appliances or equipment with damaged cords.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Never unplug or uninstall your smoke alarms.
With the above fire checklist and tips in mind, you’re well on your way to preventing a fire from causing extreme damage in your home. In the unfortunate event that a fire does break out, your first priority is to get out, stay out and call for help. Once the fire has been extinguished, call on the experts to help restore your home back to pre-loss conditions. With the proper equipment and expertise, our fire and smoke damage removal services can help get you and your family back in your home as quickly as possible.