We’ve all heard this story before, whether it’s in a movie, a book, or just a story a friend is telling us during a get-together. A family leaves their home, enjoys some time out of the house, and then returns to find it on fire and all their possessions burned. Or maybe the story is of a child smelling smoke in the middle of the night, then waking to find flames rising outside her bedroom. House fires can arise seemingly out of nowhere, and that’s why now, with a host of electronic devices and electrical outlets now filling our homes, it’s more important than ever to take steps to prevent a fire from destroying our homes.
First, you’re going to have to check out your home to make sure it’s currently safe. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to spot any fire hazards, such as improperly grounded electrical plugs, damaged wiring, overloaded breakers or fuse boxes, flickering lights, fuses that blow frequently, power surges, or any connections made of something other than copper. Just to be on the safe side, you’ll probably want to have professionals in electrical wiring, gas, plumbing, air conditioning, and heating check your home as well.
You’ll also want to keep a careful eye on your appliances. Clean the lint trap and outside vent of your clothes dryer regularly, otherwise lint can gather near the heat coils, which can be extremely dangerous. Check for problems with your electrical cords, and replace any that have been damaged. Keep your oven clean, as well as your stove; make sure grease doesn’t accumulate over time, or you’ve got a fire waiting to happen. Make sure to be careful with space heaters by keeping them away from anything flammable and never using extension cords to power them. Also, make sure your heater is on a solid surface, with no danger of the heater falling over. Inspect your fireplace and make sure that you have a screen to keep embers from escaping. These are just a few examples, of course, but it’s important to use your common sense to watch out for any situation where an electrical device can overheat, or where sparks or embers can get near something flammable.
You’ll also have to watch out for certain hazards in your daily routine. For instance, never smoke while sitting or lying down. And especially don’t smoke in bed. You never know what might catch on fire if something bad happens. Take special care when you use candles. Romantic as they are, unattended candles have been known to cause a lot of house fires. Also make sure to use caution when grilling on a deck, as decks are usually made of wood and, therefore, are extremely flammable. Make sure to turn off the propane if you leave the grill, even for a minute. It’s also important to either keep pets away from electrical devices, cables, and outlets, or specially train them to avoid chewing on cables or otherwise damaging your appliances. A home sprinkler system, while not necessarily a preventive measure, can also stop a major house fire before it has a chance to get going.
Obviously, this doesn’t cover everything. There’s a lot of ways a fire can start in your home. And as we get more electrical devices, the number of ways a fire can start will only increase. But don’t let the risk of a fire frighten you. Instead, take simple, common sense, preventative measures to protect your home from any fire hazards you might encounter, keep your appliances in good condition, and learn to practice fire safety regularly, just in case a fire does get started. House fires aren’t fun, but in most circumstances, simple methods like the ones I’ve mentioned can keep your home and your family safe and secure, allowing you to enjoy your lives to the fullest.