This home maintenance tip involves fire safety: prevention, detection, and escape. House fires are more common during the cold season; therefore, this is a great time to discuss fire safety in the home.
• Candles: Many fire officials say that unattended or forgotten candles create the greatest risk for fires. Therefore, candles should only be used with extreme caution and should be kept out of reach from children.
• Unattended cooking is another major source of house fires; never leave cooking unattended.
• Extension cords – only one extension can be used per appliance or fixture; buy an extension cord that is the proper length and do not connect a series of extension cords as this is a fire hazard. Note that all extension cords and cords for appliances and fixtures need to be checked for any signs of damage and should be replaced if damage is found.
• Ensure that electrical heaters are at least 1 meter away from anything that can burn.
• Wood burning appliances: Many insurance companies will not cover a claim if the damages were caused by a wood-burning appliance that was not professionally inspected in the last year. Consult your insurance company for specific details and have your wood-burning appliance professionally inspected and cleaned.
• It is very important to have smoke detectors installed on each floor of your home. Remember to check them regularly for proper function and change their batteries at least once a year. Every 10 years (or less) smoke detectors need to be replaced. Regularly vacuum or dust your alarms to remove any dust or cobweb build-up.
• In conjunction with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide (CO) detectors should also be installed on every level of your home outside of sleeping areas. Follow manufacturers recommendations.
• Ensure a working fire extinguisher is readily accessible on each level of your home. A proper fire extinguisher can be used to put out a small fire in its early stages. Specific kitchen fire extinguishers (labeled for use in kitchens) need to be easily accessible near your kitchen. All persons in the home should understand how to use the fire extinguishers. The type of fire extinguisher needs to match the type of fire it is being used to fight. Consult your local fire department to guide your purchase of fire extinguishers.
• Most deaths due to house fires are caused by toxic smoke inhalation and not from flame burns. Once a fire alarm sounds, you have approximately 3 minutes to escape safely; therefore, a 3 minute fire escape plan must be developed and it must practiced once or twice per year.
Everyone says that “it will not happen to me,” but it can and does happen to these people every year. Help keep you and your family safe and prepared in case of an emergency. Consult your local fire department for more information. A great website to visit is www.3minutedrill.alberta.ca.
Do not be caught unprepared; take action today.