Fire Prevention – One of Your Best Home Improvement Projects.
During the holidays, we cook more, have Christmas trees and other holiday decorations up and perhaps use space heaters. The potential for fire in your home increases during this time of year. There’s a lot you can do to keep your home fire-safe this holiday season. Fire prevention is one of the best home improvement projects you can ever do.
Extension cords: Avoid using them if you can. If you do need to use an extension cord, be sure it’s the right wire size for the item being plugged into it. If what you’re plugging into the extension cord has a grounded plug, then make sure the extension cord has a grounded plug also. Don’t put cords in front of heaters, cooking appliances or fireplaces and don’t drape them where they can fall down onto something hot.
Candles: Be careful where you set candles. Never place a candle on a window sill where a breeze can push a curtain over the flame. Candles can ignite paperwork, books or any other nearby flammables. Always burn candles on a candle holder. Jar candles are safer since the flame is contained, and the lid will completely snuff out the flame.
Holiday decorations: Water your Christmas tree regularly. Don’t place your tree and other decorations too close to a source of ignition such as a heater or a fireplace. Replace any holiday lights that have frayed or worn cords.
Space heaters: Be very careful with space heaters. Never point a space heater directly at anything flammable, such as a pile of newspapers or clothing. Never use a space heater with a worn cord, a missing safety guard, or a model that lacks a safety shutoff that automatically shuts the unit off if it gets tipped over. Never let clothing, cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and other combustibles to build up in front of a space heater.
Smoke alarms: Check and test your smoke alarm. Since smoke alarms have an average 7 year life expectancy, consider replacing your smoke alarm.
Never create a sleeping room that doesn’t have a way outside: Many of us set up temporary bedrooms for holiday guests. However, if a room doesn’t have an emergency way outside, don’t use it.
Have an escape plan: Everyone in the family needs to know and practice an escape route from each room all the way to the exterior of the house and have an agreed upon meeting spot safely away from the house, such as the end of the driveway.
Have an escape ladder: If you have a multistory house, have escape ladders for each sleeping room on the upper floors. The ladder needs to reach all the way to the ground, and every family member needs to know how to use it.
Renters insurance: Finally, if you are a renter, get renters insurance immediately. It’s inexpensive insurance against losing everything you own in the event of a fire.