House Fire 101: Tips for Preventing a Tragedy in Your Home
A fire can happen in a matter of minutes. There are numerous causes of house fires ranging from unattended cooking to frayed electric wires to improper use of portable space heaters, but the majority of these fires are preventable if care is taken to minimize the risks.
Here are some tips compiled from U.S. Fire Administration, American Red Cross and Ready.gov to ensure that your home is protected from fire hazards.
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace t catch flying sparks.
Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
Electrical and Appliance Safety
Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
Immediately shut off, then professionally place, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
Smoke outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
Soak cigarette butts and ash in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ash in the trash can.
Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
Be alert - don't smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.
Portable Space Heaters
Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.
Never leave a candle burning unattended or near a flammable item, a child's room, or an unoccupied room.
Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won't tip over.
Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sigh, preferably in a locked cabinet.
Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
More Prevention Tips
Never use stove range or oven to heat your home.
Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.
Find additional information on home fire safety hazards by visiting the following websites:
Taking these simple precautions along with investing in the right insurance coverages can help provide peace of mind for homeowners. If you have questions regarding your policies and coverages, please contact your agent. For information about insurance products through Centauri Insurance and other tips, visit us online at www.centauriinsurance.com and talk to your local insurance agent.