How to Keep Your Home Fire Free

Like most homes in North America, yours has a set of reliable, highly sensitive fire alarms. They’ll warn you before a fire consumes your home, allowing you to safely evacuate your family and call the fire department. However, what if you could avoid these reactionary measures altogether and save your home with fire prevention instead?

Preventative strategies don’t eliminate the need for home fire alarms. You need the alarm just in case an accident happens. However, a fire alarm doesn’t go off until a fire has already burned parts of your home. Use these tips to keep a fire from starting in the first place.

1. Watch the Stove
Most home fires happen because of cooking related incidents. Sometimes people need to take care of another task or concern, but when they leave the stove or oven unattended, oil splashes or hot pads catch fire, and the fire spreads to the rest of the kitchen.

This doesn’t have to happen to you. Stay in the kitchen while you cook, and if you have to leave, turn off the burner or oven until you return. You can also ask someone responsible to watch the kitchen for you if you have the option.

2. Inspect Appliances
Faulty appliances cause a lot of fires as well. Dust could clog up the fan, or the wiring could wear out. Make sure you examine the following appliances before you turn them on:
  • Air conditioner
  • Furnace
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Space heater
  • Toaster
  • Panini maker
  • Lamps
  • Dishwasher
  • Washer
  • Dryer
If you see a buildup of dust or mildew on any of them, try to clean them off by using a dry cloth. If you see frayed wires or worn or broken parts, call an electrician. They have to look at it to make sure you can use it safely—if you can’t, buy replacement parts for the appliance prior to using it.

3. Inspect Electrical Equipment
The wiring inside your walls could fray and cause a fire too. If you have an older home, have an electrician come to inspect the wiring. You should also have an electrician look at your wiring if you see the following warning signs:

  • The breakers and fuses go out frequently
  • The lights flicker and look dim
  • Outlets and switches look burnt or discoloured
  • Outlets or wires make a buzzing noise
  • Outlets or switches shock you
  • You smell something burning
If you smell something burning, call your electrician immediately. That smell means that your wires already generate enough heat to cause a fire. Avoid using outlets and lights in that area until the electrician arrives.

4. Examine Natural Gas Lines/Appliances
Natural gas appliances can also cause fires. If you notice any of the following, you probably have a leak, and should call repair personnel as soon as you vacate the building:

  • The house smells like rotten eggs
  • You hear a blowing or hissing sound coming from your gas equipment
  • You get headaches or feel breathless
  • You experience severe headaches, fatigue, vertigo, and/or nausea
If you experience severe symptoms, you’ve had a natural gas leak in your home for some time, and should seek medical attention immediately. However, you should also call a technician right away—even the smallest spark could ignite the air and create a fire.

5. Pay Attention to Where You Put Heaters
You’ve already checked your furnace and space heater for flaws, but you should also be aware of placement next to curtains, bedding, towels, furniture, or other flammable belongings. Make sure you keep all your textiles away from sources of heat.

6. Clean the Fireplace and Chimney
Just like electrical heaters, fireplaces spread an unforgiving amount of heat on the objects immediately around them. Keep all fabric, paper, and other flammable items away from your fireplace.

A buildup of soot in the fireplace can also cause problems. As the heated air rises up the chimney away from the fire, it carries ash and other debris up with it, creating a creosote building. If the creosote touches sparks or heats up too much, it could burst into flame and cause a chimney fire.

This doesn’t have to happen. As long as you have an expert inspect and clean your chimney every year, you won’t have to worry about a creosote buildup.

7. Watch All Candles and Open Flames
Do you like to burn candles? Stay in the room with them while they burn, and keep them away from places where people could knock them over.

8. Safely Store Flammable Liquids
Keep flammable liquids like cleaners, paints, insecticides, herbicides, perfumes, etc. away from any sources of heat. This includes the stovetop, the oven, the washer and dryer, and any hair dryers or straighteners.

9. Smoke Outside
Even a tiny spark from a cigarette can cause a fire. If anything, refrain from smoking when overly tired or lounging. Stay alert, and smoke outside if possible.

You can depend on your fire alarm to keep you and your family safe if a fire ever starts. However, you can prevent fire from damaging your home if you follow these steps. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect what matters most to you. Use these tips to start fire-proofing your home today.­