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Preventing House Fires AND Keeping Your Family Safe

In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening; in five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. According to Ready.gov, it only takes minutes for the thick black smoke to fill a house. House fires present many dangers. Heat is more dangerous than flames; room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling such super-hot air will scorch your lungs and can melt clothes to your skin. Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Here are the most common causes of house fires and how to protect yourself and your home.

Top Danger= Electrical

Although it may be more attractive to cover the electrical cord with a throw rug, repeated traffic will wear down the cord and expose the wiring. Then the rug can catch fire! Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.

Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips—both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help protect these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable electronic devices, such as computers and televisions. Be aware of the capacity of your home’s electrical system; don’t overload your circuits.

Kitchens Can Be Dangerous

Of course, one of the most important functions in your home is the ability to cook food. However, more fires start here than any other room. So keep your stove and oven clean as splatter or grease can later ignite when cooking. Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove and kitchen fire extinguisher readily available (and know how to use it!)

So Are Laundry Rooms

Even though there is water, there are also elements of a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Fire Administration,  2,900 home clothes dryer fires caused an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss per year. Clean out the dryer vent regularly; empty the lint filter after each load. Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so do not forget to clean these areas. Consider replacing existing systems with dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.

If you are installing your own dryer vent, absolutely have it vent outside the home. Follow the directions in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, using the recommended duct material. Consider replacing existing systems with dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.

Alternative Heating Sources May Also Create a Fire Hazard.

Avoid using an older space heater, as it may not have adequate safety features compared to newer units. When purchasing a new space heater, pay attention to the safety features and never place it near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.

If you plan to install a wood or pellet stove, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.

Dirty Chimneys Also Pose a Fire Hazard.

A homeowner will not be able to see all the buildup; have your chimney inspected annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Hire a professional to clean and repair the chimney as needed, BEFORE before the cold months. Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood, cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace—these can all spark chimney fires.

How can I Protect My Home?

The simple answer? A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. But they only work if they are WORKING! Test batteries monthly and replace at least once a year. You don’t have to get rid of the used batteries, just move them to a less important use. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas and the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years. Consider replacing existing systems with dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors. If your household has special needs, install alarms using strobe lights, audible alarms or vibrating pads to keep every family member safe.

G.S. Jones provides fire damage restoration services to commercial and residential properties. If your property has been affected by a fire, the steps that you take immediately after a fire occurs critical to the success of your property’s restoration. After making sure everyone is safe, your next call should be to a professional fire damage restoration company like G.S. Jones.  Call 412-766-6886 for 24-hour response to fire damage emergencies, and will dispatch a team right away to secure your property and take immediate steps to mitigate the damage.