A house fire is a disastrous, but very preventable, event. Keep yourself, your home and your family safe with these easy, life-saving tips, brought to you by the legal experts at AFSL.
- Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms – The most important investment you can make to protect your home from a fire is in quality smoke detectors. Every floor of your house should be fitted with a smoke detector device and each should be replaced every ten years. If you do not know how old the smoke detectors in your home are, replace them. Make sure the devices are loaded with fresh batteries, and test them regularly. With the onset of new technology, there are even smoke detectors that can be linked to your smartphone, many of which will send notices if the detector has gone off.
- Cooking – The kitchen is the primary location for fires in the home, as the mix of open flames, hot surfaces, flammable materials, grease and electrical appliances can be a recipe for disaster. Do not walk away from pots and pans on open flames, if you need to leave the kitchen, turn off the burner. Keep potholders, paper towels, plastic implements and any other flammable objects far away from the stovetop or other hot surfaces. Unplug electrical appliances immediately after use. Invest in splatter screens to prevent grease from hitting open flame. Most importantly, keep a fire extinguisher near the stove in case a fire does start.
- Fireplaces and Heaters – Winter and early spring are the most likely times for heating fires. Portable heaters should be placed at least three feet away from flammable materials at all times. Flammable materials in the home include drapes, bedclothes and furnished areas where people and pets normally congregate. Ensure that heaters are well maintained and inspected by a professional regularly. If you have a fireplace, make sure the chimney is clean and free of debris, and always use a fireplace screen.
- Smoking – Smoking inside not only stains surfaces and leaves an unpleasant odor, it can also cause fires. Smoking outside, and extinguishing butts thoroughly before discarding them is the best way to prevent smoking-related house fires. If you insist on smoking inside, use deep ashtrays, and never try to extinguish a cigarette into a flammable material. Make sure that you do not smoke in bed, as many cigarette fires occur when a person falls asleep mid-cigarette.
- Candles – Candles are beautiful, but can be dangerous if carelessly used. Do not leave candles lit in unoccupied rooms, and extinguish candles before leaving the house. The bedroom is full of flammable materials, so candles should be lit elsewhere. Opt for battery-operated candles instead of traditional wax, as these have the same feel of a conventional candle but no open flame.
- Electrical Cords – Check your appliances for frayed or worn cords. Make sure plugs fit properly into sockets, and do not run wires underneath rugs or furniture. Have a professional handle any electrical problems you face—DIY repairs can leave you susceptible to hazards.
- Children and Pets – Have a conversation with your children about fire safety. Make sure they know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency, and do not leave them or any pets unattended in the kitchen, or near other open flames. Keep matches and lighters stored out of your children’s reach, and use extra blankets and thermal pajamas instead of portable heaters in children’s bedrooms.
The fire loss and burn injury attorneys at AFSL have extensive experience representing victims of fires. For additional information related to protecting your home from a fire, or to speak with an attorney regarding your individual claim, contact our attorneys today.