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National Fire Safety Week: Fire Prevention at Home

Did you know that a residential fire occurs every 90 seconds in the U.S. and causes almost $6 billion in losses each year. In honor of National Fire Safety Week, take steps to help prevent a fire and protect your home and family.

A lady holding a battery and smoke detector in both hands.

Fire Escape Plan

A fire can grow out of control in just a few minutes, so preparing ahead of time is a must. Start by creating a fire escape plan that includes:

  • Map of your home with all exits, escape routes and smoke alarms marked
  • Two exit points from each room; these may include doors and windows (regularly check that window screens can be easily removed, and don't allow your escape routes to be blocked by furniture or other items)
  • A meeting place in a safe location outside of your home
  • Emergency contact numbers and addresses

Once you've completed your plan, share it with all family members. At least twice per year, take a practice run through the plan, so family members are familiar with the steps to take in case of an emergency. The goal of each fire drill should be to get all family members out of the home in 2 minutes or less.

Safety Equipment

The right safety equipment can reduce the risk of fire damage or injury. According to the Red Cross, the majority of fatalities take place in homes where there are no working smoke alarms. However, homes that have a combination of working smoke alarms and a sprinkler system cut the risk of dying in a fire by more than 80 percent.

Stay safe by installing smoke alarms inside and outside sleeping areas on each level of your home, as well as in the kitchen. Choose alarms that sense smoke and fire in different ways, such as ionization and photoelectric. Test alarms every month and replace batteries at least once per year. Replace your alarms at least every 10 years. Consider installing an alarm that also includes an outdoor strobe light that can alert emergency services that something is wrong.

Keep fire extinguishers on each level of the home, and place one in fire-prone areas such as the kitchen, furnace and hot water heater. Regularly inspect extinguishers to ensure they're up to date and fully charged.

Preventative Behaviors

Certain behaviors can help reduce the risk of a home fire. Cooking causes most fires at home, so use extra caution when frying, grilling or cooking over an open flame. Smoking is the leading cause of deaths related to residential fires, so take smoking materials outside; and never smoke in bed.

Keep an eye on electrical appliances and cords that produce heat. Don't overload electrical outlets and unplug appliances when not in use. As a rule, don't place flammable materials — such as curtains, towels or papers — within three feet of a heat source.

If you're using a grill, dispose of coals properly and don't leave flames unattended. The same goes for candles, incense, space heaters, and any other heat-producing materials or equipment. If you have a fireplace, don't leave it burning when you're not home, and have the flue and chimney inspected regularly.

These simple fire prevention tips can help protect you, your family and your home.

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