Cooking and heating are the primary causes of household fires and fire accidents, with the winter months being the most deadly. It’s a great time to review and practice fire safety procedures.
The good news is that, according to Injury Facts, home fire deaths in the United States have consistently decreased over the last several decades, from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,820 in 2018.
However, even one death due to a fire that could have been avoided is too many. While fire does not discriminate based on age, it is the third highest cause of death among children aged one to fourteen. In 2017, 127 children this age died as a result of fires and smoke inhalation.
Make fire safety a priority when cooking by following these guidelines:
Don’t use the oven or burner if you’re drowsy or if you’ve had too much to drink.
While you’re frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen.
When simmering, baking, or roasting, keep an eye on the food, stay in the kitchen, and set a timer.
Anything that can catch fire should be kept away from your stovetop.
The second greatest cause of home fires is heating. The American Red Cross offers the following advice:
Keep all flammables at least 3 feet away from a space heater, stove, or fireplace, such as paper, clothing, bedding, draperies, or carpets.
Turn off heaters and ensure sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room; never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
If you must use a space heater, do so on a level, nonflammable surface such as ceramic tile rather than a rug or carpet.
Keep pets and children away from space heaters.
When purchasing a space heater, seek for types that will automatically turn off if the heater is knocked over.
Other common sources of fire include smoking, electrical difficulties, and candles, in addition to cooking. To reduce the likelihood of danger:
Establish a no-smoking policy in the home
Check all cords for fraying or exposed wires and replace any that are.
Use flameless candles instead.
Keep matches and lighters in a locked cabinet out of reach of children.
It’s a Must to Have Working Smoke Alarms
Three out of every five fire deaths occur in houses without or malfunctioning smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are an important aspect of a house fire escape strategy because they provide early warning and reduce the chances of dying in a fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should:
Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall on every level of your home, including inside bedrooms and outside sleeping spaces.
To avoid false alerts, keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove.
For persons who are hard of hearing or deaf, use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers.
Smoke alarms should be tested once a month.
Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector and replace the batteries in your flashlight once a year.
Smoke alarms that are 10 years or older should be replaced.
Every 88 seconds, a house fire is reported. A fire can spread swiftly once the smoke alarm goes off, leaving only a minute or two to escape. That is why having a house escape plan is so crucial.
Begin by developing a map of your home and following the NFPA’s guidelines:
Prepare two routes to get out of each room.
Ensure that all outside doors and windows open freely.
Determine alternate methods, such as a window onto a neighboring roof or a foldable ladder from upper-story windows.
Plan to take the stairs rather than the elevator if you reside in a multi-story building.
Set out an outside gathering spot that is a safe distance from the house for everyone to gather.
Keep in mind to:
Experiment with closing your eyes, slithering low to the ground, and covering your mouth.
Close doors behind you as much as possible.
If your clothes catch fire, practice how to “stop, drop, and roll.”
Before opening a door, try the handles to discover if they are hot.
Never allow children to hide during a fire, and teach them how to leave on their own if you are unable to assist them.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher and How to Use It
Always prioritize your safety; if you are unsure about your abilities to utilize a fire extinguisher, exit the building and dial 9-1-1. The American Red Cross advises you to assess the situation and make certain that
Everyone has departed or is about to leave the house.
The fire is tiny and does not spread, and there is little smoke.
You have a speedy exit in front of you.
Learn about the various types of fire extinguishers available; not all will operate on all types of fires. The National Fire Protection Association suggests a multi-purpose device for residential use that is large enough to put out a small fire but not too heavy to handle.
Once a year, go over the instructions again. There won’t be time to learn how to operate a fire extinguisher if you need one.
Know the acronym PASS for a fire extinguisher:
Remove the pin.
Aim low, toward the fire’s base.
Slowly squeeze the handle.
Sweep the nozzle back and forth.