Every home in America needs a fire evacuation plan. The National Fire Protection Association studied home fires from 2015 to 2019. The organization found that fire departments responded to a yearly average of 346,800 home structure fires. Those fires caused, on average, more than 2,600 deaths and 11,000 per year. Direct property losses figure in the billions.
Some straightforward fire safety measures can significantly cut the risk of a home fire, and a simple house evacuation plan will keep you and your family safe if a fire does break out.
This article will review the most important home fire prevention tips and some strategies for creating an effective fire safety plan for your family.
How to Prevent a Fire: A Home Fire Safety Checklist
The National Fire Protection Association outlines five main causes for most home fires in the US: cooking, heating, electrical systems, arson, and smoking materials. The tips below will help you prepare your home to prevent a fire from ever breaking out.
1. Fireproof your kitchen.
Most home fires begin in the kitchen. Follow these tips to create a safer cooking space.
- Maintain and service your oven and stove to reduce the risk of a faulty component starting a fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Remember that a fire extinguisher should be replaced after 10 years or so, even if it has never been used.
- Clean grease and aerosolized oil from around your cooking surfaces, including the exhaust fan and hood assembly.
- Keep flammable items away from cooking areas. This includes flammable liquids, but also things like paper towels and window curtains.
- Educate your family on safe cooking methods: Smother a grease fire and never try to extinguish it with water. Don’t deep fry items with excessive water or moisture. Exercise care when cooking with alcohol. Never leave a lit stove or oven unattended.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets. Ensure all appliances are plugged in securely.
2. Be vigilant about maintaining appliances and fixtures that heat your home.
A significant portion of fires are caused by heating appliances and fireplaces. Heat your home responsibly.
- Clean your chimney every year, especially if you use your fireplace often. The buildup of creosote is flammable and needs to be cleaned.
- Keep flammable items clear of your fireplace. Use a screen to catch hot embers. Never leave a fire unattended.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Keep it at least five feet away from anything flammable.
- Schedule regular service calls for major heating appliances and boilers.
3. Eliminate fire hazards from your outdoor spaces.
Some fires begin outside the home. A few simple measures can reduce the risk of an outdoor fire spreading.
- Keep outdoor grills and other cooking appliances five or more feet from the side of your home.
- Maintain your yard to keep dry leaves, pine needles, and twigs from accumulating. Keep shrubs and other plants well-watered.
4. Reduce the risk of electrical fires.
Thousands of home fires are caused by faulty appliances and aging electrical wiring. A little caution can make an electrical fire much less likely.
- Maintain all electronic appliances and replace those that have frayed or otherwise damaged power cords.
- Use light bulbs with a wattage that is recommended for your lamps and light fixtures.
- If you have an older home, consult with an electrician to confirm that your electrical wiring and breakers are up to code.
- Use extension cords responsibly and avoid plugging appliances into extension cords as a permanent measure.
- Have an electrician replace outdated outlets. GFCI outlets are recommended, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Of course, it’s also crucial to regularly test your fire alarms to ensure they’re functioning properly. And there are some lifestyle considerations to bear in mind too:
- If you’re a smoker, never smoke in bed.
- Ensure cigarettes, matches, and other items with a flame or ember are fully extinguished before discarding.
- Never leave candles unattended, and keep them away from flammable items, such as curtains or papers.
Prepare a Fire Safety Plan
Safety measures can reduce the risk of a fire, but the chance is never fully eliminated. It’s important to have a fire escape plan for kids and adults alike so you can quickly and safely evacuate your home if a fire does break out. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Make a plan of your home and identify all potential exits. Identify which exit your family should use in the event of a fire. Include alternatives in case the primary exit is blocked. Consider installing fire ladders in second-story bedrooms.
- If you have young children, elderly family members, family members with disabilities, or pets, assign another family member with the role of assisting them in evacuating.
- Identify a safe meeting place, such as the end of the street, for your family to convene after evacuating.
- Make sure your family understands that getting out of the house is the most important task. No one should linger to retrieve any material possessions.
- Perform regular fire drills so everyone knows what to do in the case of a real fire. Emphasize that everyone should close doors behind them as they leave.
What to Prepare in Household Fire Escape Plan
You may want to consider packing a go-bag as part of your fire safety plan. Keep it somewhere easily accessible so you can grab it at a moment’s notice. Here are some items to include:
- Change of clothes
- Toiletries and medicines
- Cell phone and charger
- Cash and a credit card
- First aid kit
How to Easily Maintain Your Appliances
A key part of fire safety is keeping your home appliances and systems in working order. This is much more manageable—and cheaper—with the help of a home warranty.
Liberty Home Guard can cover virtually any appliance or system in your home, from your electrical system to your kitchen stove. Talk with our team to learn more by calling (866)-681-0820.