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Essential Fire Prevention Tips For Your Home

December 28th, 2012 Seasonal

You may strive to keep the appearance of your home in tip top shape with great decor and a thorough cleaning schedule. However all it takes is one fire to undo all the progress you've made throughout the years. Consider following these fire safety tips in order to keep your home and more importantly, your loved ones, out of harm's way.

Smoke alarms
Smoke alarms are your first defense against a blaze, and they'll notify you of any fire danger. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends testing your alarms once a month. You can do this by pressing the test button located on the alarm. You can remember to test them with a calendar that you can download from the NFPA. Some alarms are battery powered while others are wired into your home. According to FireXSafety.com, you should change the battery in your alarm once a year - you may want to put a new one in every six months just to be sure.

For an additional cost, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends installing a fire alarm system, which is usually part of your burglar alarm system. This is useful in ensuring that the fire alarms contact fire and medical services when they're set off. An alarm system is especially useful if you have a disabled family member who may need help exiting the home.

Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are the most effective way to stop a fire before it spreads. Always keep one nearby and make sure that you and your family know how to use it. According to the USFA, there are different extinguishers for different purposes. For example a Class A extinguisher is good for cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics. Class B extinguishers on the other hand are designed for combating flammable liquid fires like grease, gasoline and oil. You should assess what kind of fires are most likely to occur in certain areas of your home, and place the appropriate fire extinguisher there.

Electrical fires
According to the USFA, electrical malfunctions result in nearly 26,000 fires and $1 billion in property damage each year. Electrical fires are more likely to happen during the colder months due to the increased use of electric and heating appliances.

Many times bad wiring is the culprit, so the source recommends regularly checking your wiring and to look for appliances with frayed or worn wires. It's also a good idea to keep wires away from wet areas, notably in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Another common cause of electrical fires are overloaded outlets. Try not to use adapters that allow you to put more than two plugs in each outlet or more plugs than the designated amount of spots in a power strip. The USFA also warns against trying to fit a three prong cord in a two prong outlet.

Holiday hazards
While fire and lights are a large part of the autumn and wintertime holidays, it also means more hazards. If you're lighting candles or have a jack-'o-lantern, watch out for children knocking them over, and always keep an eye on the open flames. Jack-'o-lanterns may look good on your wooden stoop but they can easily catch fire, so you might want to move them to a paved or stone driveway. Christmas tree lights can also be a fire hazard, so avoid leaving them on while you're asleep or away from home. When selecting a tree, the USFA recommends picking a younger one, because it'll be less dry and less flammable. You can tell if the tree's old by bouncing the trunk off the ground - if a lot of needles fall, the tree is probably too old.