With winter getting colder and colder, it’s time to start thinking about indoor heating safety. Taking basic precautions can significantly reduce the risk of a fire in your home. From reviewing some winter habits, to running a check-up of your home’s fire safety tools. So how can you prepare for this season?
There are numerous steps you can take to minimize your risk of suffering from fire. Taking precautions will help ensure that your home stays fire-safe and prevent serious injuries from resulting from these disasters. Here are some things to look out for around the house.
1) Smoke Alarms
Beep beep beep. It may be a rude awakening but having a working smoke alarm can be the key difference between burnt toast and a toasted kitchen. While many of us have these already installed, there are some key points you may have missed
- Smoke alarm batteries need to be replaced once a year
- Regularly check if your smoke alarm is working by listening to a beep
- Maintain functionality by clearing dust
- Replace the smoke alarm every 10 years with a licensed technician
When changing smoke alarm batteries, it’s important that you discard them safely. You can do this by throwing them away in the new battery packaging, or covering the ends with electrical tape. This helps prevent sparks if the battery were to contact metal surfaces. Also, be sure to throw them away at the appropriate disposal spots.
2) Kitchen safety
It’s a no-brainer that most home fires can be sourced back to the kitchen. Fires can start from various sources, such as your stovetop, oven or even the good old sandwich press. That’s why it is important to be alert when you’re using or leaving your kitchen. Here are some main points to consider
Most kitchen fires occur because people get distracted while they are cooking. Distractions such as television and radio can distract you from cooking, as well as children or pets. In the past, cooking fires accounted for 36% of accidental house fires. If you are unable to focus all of your attention on cooking, it’s best to turn it off until they have been removed.
Clean your workstation
Grease is a major source of kitchen fires. It can quickly spread to open flames, so it’s important to regularly clean your kitchen. Proper cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen appliances and fire suppression technology can make the difference between an unpreventable fire and a minimal small flame.
Also, make sure that your range hood filter is regularly cleaned. Built-up dust and grease can damage your ventilation systems, which can increase your chances of a stovetop fire.
Check your kitchen appliances
Electrical fires can start in kitchens, so it’s important to check wiring and cords regularly. Kitchen equipment, such as toasters and ovens, is often used. If you’re not sure if the wiring is in good condition, consider hiring a professional to check it for you. Unplugging appliances after each use is a good habit that can save you tons in the future.
Kitchen Fire prevention tips
Using a lid on pans is one of the best ways to avoid a kitchen fire. It can help trap the flames and put them out. In case you’ve ever had to deal with a kitchen fire, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Never try to pour water to put out a stovetop fire. This can cause the oil to spit flames everywhere which can latch onto a kitchen towel or even yourself.
It is also beneficial to install fire safety tools around your kitchen. Having a 1kg fire extinguisher, or fire blanket can be your best friend when battling a kitchen fire. It is also important to make sure your kitchen’s smoke alarms are working just in case you don’t notice smoke coming from a different direction.
When you’re leaving the kitchen make sure you’ve checked these things first
- Has the stove been turned off?
- Does the oven have a timer?
- Are there any flammable items lying around that can be put away
- Have the kitchen appliances been turned off
If you have a power board in your house or office, there are several things you need to keep an eye on. The most common issues are Piggybacking, overloaded circuits, and damaged insulation. If you don’t maintain your powerboard, you may be exposing your home or office to dangerous electrical fire hazards.
Don’t overload powerboards
Overloaded power boards can be a danger to your home, causing a blackout and potentially a fire. Be careful not to overload these power boards, and place them in an area with good ventilation. Clean your power boards regularly and be sure to inspect the plugs for damage. If you store your power boards beneath your desk, be aware that they are vulnerable to damage. If you notice signs of damage to the outside of the board, replace the power board as soon as possible.
If your plug is loose, make sure to replace the extension board altogether
To prevent fires caused by extension cords, store them in a neat, out-of-the-way area. Avoid placing them under rugs or on floors where they can be damaged. Damaged extension leads can create a “hot spot,” which means a point in the wiring where resistance is high. This hot spot, which tends to occur on the narrower portion of the wire, tends to focus power dissipation and heat.
A common mistake many people make is using extension cords in an unventilated room. Because extension cords do not have an outdoor outlet, they can be overloaded with electrical devices. If you plug an air conditioning unit into an extension cord and it is overloaded, you run the risk of a fire. Furthermore, improperly-wired extension cords can cause a fire. If you are unsure of how to keep your extension cords safe, you can always ask an electrician to check them for you.
Don’t piggyback powerboards
To avoid fire hazards, make sure you never piggyback two power boards together. Piggybacking power boards overload the electrical devices connected to them. Because you connect two plugs to a single outlet, you risk overloading a power board. Moreover, because the structure and design of a power board determine its maximum current rating, piggybacking can lead to an overload.
Buy a power board with a surge protector
If you are looking for ways to avoid powerboard fires, a good surge protector is a must. These devices can prevent electrical surges, which can overload your electrical outlets and cause your appliances to spark or catch on fire. This can help protect your appliances as well are your property. The surge protector is identified by the red light. If the light no longer works, then it means it’s time to change your powerboard.
Make sure to unravel your cords
When you use your extension cords or powerboards, making sure your cords are not tied together or wrapped can help prevent electrical faults. This prevents the inner wire to fray and damage, which can lead to home fires.
4) Space heaters
During the colder season, many of us get to see our trusty old friend, the space heater. However, “trusty” may be the wrong word. Although they may not mean to, space heaters are the main source of indoor house fires during the winter season.
To avoid fires caused by a heater here are some things to look out for.
- Keep the heater at least three feet from flammable objects, such as bedding, upholstered furniture, and curtains.
- Make sure children and pets are kept at least three feet away from the heater.
- Make sure that you clean your heater before use. Especially after being stored throughout the warmer seasons, they can build up dust inside the vents. This can cause it to smell when brought back out again. If the dust build-up is too big, then it can cause a major fire hazard.
- And, as always, turn off your heater before leaving the room.
Children and pets can accidentally turn a space heater on, and they can also knock them over or put things too close to the heater. Nowadays, a lot of heaters have a lot of built-in safety functions. Being aware of them when you purchase one can help add an extra layer of protection when used.
Faulty wiring can also cause a fire. So make sure that your space heaters are routinely checked by a test and tag professional. At Jim’s test and tag, we have a specialist that can do that for you.
5) Lint dryers
Lint dryer fires are one of the leading causes of house fires. To prevent a fire, clean the lint trap and vent after every use of the dryer. Experts recommend cleaning the vent and lint trap at least once a year. If you don’t use the dryer often, you can clean it once a year. But what can cause a fire? Here are some causes.
Regularly clean your clothes dryer
If you own a clothes dryer, you know about the risks of a lint-filled dryer. Lint can build up inside the exhaust system, and a fire can easily start because of too much lint. This is why you should make sure to clean your dryer’s lint trap frequently.
Cleaning the lint filter in your dryer is essential for preventing fire and reducing energy costs. You should clean the lint filter before and after every load of clothes to ensure that it is free of any lint particles. If it is not clean, you might find lint that’s sneaked through the filter and is sitting in the duct between your dryer and exterior vent. Keeping these two parts clean reduces the risk of fire and increases the efficiency of the dryer.
Unattended electrical fires can be disastrous and leave homes and personal belongings destroyed. Faulty wiring can cause circuit breakers and fuses to blow, which can start a house fire. Don’t leave your clothes in the dryer while you’re away. You might not realize there’s a fire until you come home to find your house ablaze.
Lint is highly combustible and can collect on electrical wiring, causing sparks. The lint can then accumulate on the heating element of the dryer, which can lead to a fire. Lastly, if a dryer vent system is blocked, lint can also collect in it. If this happens, your dryer could overheat and a spark will ignite the lint.
Before winter arrives, make sure your furnace and heating system are in proper working condition. Getting your furnace professionally inspected each year will help keep you safer and lower your risk of a home heating fire. Check your furnace’s ducts for debris and animals like birds. Chimneys should also be inspected and cleaned periodically to prevent clogging and fire hazards.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that all fireplaces, fireplace vents, and chimneys be inspected by a professional annually. Inspecting these components is important not only for safety reasons but also because animals can use the chimney for nesting purposes and could pose a fire risk.
Although they smell nice, that comfy smell of vanilla can turn into the scent of burnt curtains and smoke alarms. Candles can easily start a fire, so you should be aware of your surroundings. Make sure that you move things away from the candle source, such as a stack of papers or low-hanging flowers.
If you have children or pets around, you should also keep candles away from them and on a flat surface. Having a candle lid can also allow for a quick put-out of the flame.
8) Outdoor kitchens
Similar to your stove top, practising safe fire habits when using your barbeque can protect your home and family. Here are general rules to follow at your next BBQ party
Always place a grill at least 10 feet away from structures and trees.
It is important to keep it away from awnings, tree branches, and other structures. If you don’t do so, the floating embers could ignite and start a fire. As a general rule, you should also avoid placing the grill near your house. In addition to these safety precautions, you should also keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill, as well.
Avoid dangling clothing
Another common barbeque fire hazard is clothing. Avoid wearing clothing that has dangling pieces or long sleeves. These pieces and sleeves can catch fire if placed too close to the open flame. Apron strings should also be tied back away from the front.
It’s also useful to prepare some fire prevention tools such as a fire extinguisher or fire blanket close by. This can help protect yourself and your guests when the situation gets heavy.
Clean after use
Cleaning after even a BBQ session can help prevent potential fire hazards. The leftover grease and fat can be the perfect fuel for a loose spark, which can put yourself and your family in danger. Although it’s a hassle, especially after a successful BBQ meal, proper cleaning and maintenance of your workstation can definitely pay off in the long run.
9) Fire safety tools
Whether you’re renting a home or owning your own property, it’s important to invest in some fire safety tools. While there are plenty of ways to prevent fires, you’ll want to ensure your safety at all times. Fire safety tools include large buckets for collecting water in the event of a fire, as well as ladders and fire blankets. The first two items should be kept near doors and windows in the case of a fire.
Fire extinguishers are another essential fire safety tool for your home. These pressurised containers are designed to put out fires quickly. Depending on what kind of fire you’re likely to face, you should consider a different type of fire extinguisher.
When you buy fire safety tools, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the various features of your home. Create a floor plan for each room and identify the best way to exit them. You should also know which rooms are more likely to catch fire and identify the exits from them.
Then, discuss the plan with your family and friends to ensure everyone knows how to get out of the house quickly. Practice escaping the building by staying low in order to avoid the smoke and to test closed doors to make sure they can withstand the heat.
Learning how to prevent home fires starts with being proactive. There are numerous steps you can take to minimize your risk of suffering from fire. Taking precautions will help ensure that your home stays fire-safe and prevent serious injuries this season.