Cooler temperatures are finally on the way and the heating season is coming up. Sadly, this means the risk of fire at home and at work is on the rise as well. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a fire department responds to a fire every 19 seconds in the United States. Fire and smoke damage cause property losses approaching $12 billion each year. The human toll is stunning, with fire injuries and deaths reaching into the thousands each year.
October 8-14, 2017 is National Fire Prevention Week. Now’s the time to take steps to prevent fires and to protect yourself if a fire does occur. Whether in a place of business or at home, you should be doing the following:
- Keep matches, lighters and other fire starting devices out of sight and reach of children.
- Keep candles away from children and pets. Extinguish candles after use and never leave them burning unattended.
- Have your heating system checked out and serviced before using it for the first time this fall.
- If you burn fuel for heat, you need a carbon monoxide detector. CO2 is colorless, odorless, tasteless and deadly, and is the result of burning fossil fuels.
- If your home or business uses gas for anything (heating, water heater, stove) and you smell gas, evacuate and call 911 immediately.
- Install fresh batteries in smoke detectors. A good time to do this is each fall and spring when we change to and from daylight saving time.
- Businesses should have a fire escape plan diagramed and labeled, and posted in easy view. (You should have a plan for your home as well, and all family members should know what to do.)
- Know where all exits are located. Even your newest employee should know this.
- Keep working fire extinguishers within 75 feet. Your local fire department will come to your business and provide training on the use of fire extinguishers. Be sure you know how to use one. Replace fire extinguishers every year or have them serviced.
- Don’t leave a stove unattended. Grease causes a lot of fires in the kitchen. Interestingly, according to insurance statistics it’s especially common when preparing French fries. Consider installing a fire suppressor such as StoveTop FireStop (not a paid endorsement) to prevent kitchen fires.
- Programmable coffeemakers should have an automatic shutoff feature or you must always remember to turn them off. Never leave a coffeemaker on when you are away from the building. If possible, use a coffeemaker that has a thermal carafe instead of a heat plate. The thermal coupler in the heat plate can go bad and start a fire.
- Be sensible with extension cords. Don’t use them if you don’t have to. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord and don’t overload them. Don’t run them under carpet and make sure nothing is resting on an extension cord such as a chair leg. This creates resistance, which in turn builds heat, which can start a fire.
- Clean dryer vents. Lint buildup and static electricity from clothing is a dangerous combination that could spark a fire.
- Turn off supplemental heat when not needed. Be especially careful with kerosene space heaters that use an inverted fuel tank. If not installed properly they can leak and cause a fire.
- Do not store gasoline powered equipment in a storage area that has a gas water heater. If something goes wrong with either one, the other will literally add fuel to the flame.
- In the event of a power outage make sure everything is turned off in case the power is restored while you are away. Many fires have started while someone was cooking when an outage occurred, and the power came on later with the stove still on and no one at home.
COMING UP NEXT: In addition to prevention, you need to be prepared in case the worst scenario happens. In our next post we’ll share tips on what to do before and after a fire.
Do you have another great fire prevention tip? Share it in the comments section.