A person's home may be a place of comfort and security, but in the event of a fire, it can be a deadly hazard.
According to a report from the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, on average home fires account for 30 percent of all fires and 73 percent of all fire deaths in the jurisdictions that contributed data. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, while smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths. One-third of all home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the living room, 20 percent resulted from fires originating in the bedroom, and 11 percent were caused by fires starting in the kitchen.
As these numbers make perfectly clear, home fires are a serious issue and should be addressed accordingly.
Family Fire Safety
Experts will tell you the number one element of fire safety is to have a family action plan and to practice it. Without practice, the sound of the fire alarm may trigger panic in young children or older adults living in your home. Rehearsing what to do in the event of a fire can help ensure that everyone gets out of the home safely. It's also a good idea to:
- Decide on a meeting place well outside of your home, so you know all family members/caregivers made it out of the house safely.
- Teach young children to move quickly when they hear a fire alarm.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A very old saying, but when it comes to fire safety, it could not be more true. You may think you have removed flammable materials and devices from your home, but studies show that some common household items are often the source of a fire.
As the weather turns cooler, many families rely on space heaters to provide extra warmth. However, space heaters are a common cause of household fires.
- Don't use older space heaters. When purchasing a new space heater, look for safety features such as an auto shut-off when a space heater is moved or knocked over.
- Don't place a space heater near furniture, curtains, bed coverings or other objects that could catch fire.
- Make sure to turn space heaters off or, better yet, unplug them when you leave the room or go to bed.
Chimneys are another common source of fires. It's recommended you have your chimney inspected annually by a certified professional. In addition:
- Hot coals can be buried in ashes and stay live for many hours. Wet the ashes and use care when removing them. Place them in a metal container and store the container far from your home, not on your deck or in a garage.
- Flying embers or sparks can be hazardous, so be sure to use a fire screen to control them.
- Do not burn wrapping paper, trash or trees in fireplaces, as these materials can spark a home fire.
Clothes dryers are one of the surprising causes of home fires, as lint can quickly accumulate and lead to a fire.
- Show family members where the lint trap is located and be sure they clean it out before adding a new load.
- Check under and behind your dryer, as lint may collect in these areas.
- It's a good idea to clean your dryer vent several times per year to prevent lint buildup.
- Turn off your clothes dryer when you are not at home or when you are asleep.
- Before putting up the lights, inspect them for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
- While vintage holiday lights may have been in the family for years, they typically do not meet today's safety standards. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Do not leave holiday lights on when you leave your home or when you are sleeping.
You've heard this message many times: every home should have working smoke alarms on every floor. Most experts recommend checking the batteries every six months, when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
You should also replace smoke detectors every 10 years. While it may appear the smoke alarm just sits on the wall, it is working every second of every day and can become worn out. Replacing an old smoke alarm also allows you to take advantage of the latest technology to keep your family safe.
Remember these four key points:
- Create and practice a family safety plan.
- "Two Ways Out" of every room in your home.
- Evaluate common household items for potential fire hazards.
- Make sure your smoke detectors work and replace them every 10 years.
By following these simple guidelines, you may extinguish fire concerns in your home.