Chances are, you know the basics of home fire safety, like changing the batteries in your smoke detector at least once a year, even though the batteries are still working fine. However, this isn't the only fire safety check you should do. Being prepared is your best defence against a fire in your home. Here are 13 top tips to keep you, your family, and your home safe from preventable home fires.
1. Clean your oven
Clean your stove burners and oven regularly. Hard grease build-up can become combustible and catch fire easily.
2. Storing and using combustible cleaning products
Check your cupboards for cleaning products, paints and other liquids that are flammable. Read each label carefully. Use and store each product only as recommended.
3. Smoke detector maintenance
Have you tested or changed out the batteries in your smoke detectors recently? It is recommended to keep the same schedule in replacing your smoke detector batteries as you do changing your clocks over during daylight savings. Ideally, you should have a smoke detector on each floor of your home, and either inside or just outside each sleeping area. One ¼ of all home fires start in a bedroom.
4. Smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm testing
Test both your smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide alarms monthly to ensure that they work and that you can hear them easily, especially in sleeping areas. This is an important test to do as a family so that everyone knows what the alarm sounds like.
5. Wood-burning fireplaces
Have your wood burning fireplace chimney cleaned out annually. If you have not lit a fire in a while or are in a new house, consider having your chimney inspected and cleaned before lighting a fire. Buildup of creosote and soot from burning wood can start a fire in your chimney, cause serious damage, and even spread to the rest of your home.
6. Fire extinguisher
If you keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen (and you really should) or anywhere else in your home, confirm that it is in working order. Fire extinguishers have expiry dates - just like food! - and need to be checked at least once a year. Make sure everyone in your home knows where the fire extinguisher is located how to use. There is not a lot of time to read the instructions when there is a fire!
7. Escape plan
Do you have a fire escape plan including a meeting place and does your entire household know it by heart? Go over the plan with your family and make sure everyone knows where to go, what to do, and who to help/ask for help if a smoke detector goes off or there is a fire.
8. Another thing about your escape plan...
Do you have a copy of your fire escape plan available to overnight guests? Show your visitors where the exits are and where to go in case of an emergency!
9. Easy exit
Check that all windows open easily and that screens can be removed quickly, especially on upper floors. With Ottawa’s extreme weather changes, be sure to do this check multiple times throughout the year, even in the winter!
10. Electrical outlets
Make sure none of your electrical outlets are overloaded and adjust plugs and cords accordingly. This becomes more of a concern around the holidays with decorations plugged in.
11. Frayed and damaged cords
Check your appliances on a regular basis, especially the ones you use daily, for worn or frayed cords. Either replace the item or repair the cord with electrical tape, depending on the level of damage.
12. Gas appliances
Ensure that any gas appliances are inspected annually. If your appliance(s) is not working appropriately, it can lead to the release of carbon monoxide.
13. Clean the lint trap
Clean out the lint trap of your dryer every time you put in a load of laundry. Have the outside dryer vent checked annually to make sure it is clear of debris and working properly. This is also a simple task you can do youself, you just need the right tools!
Many local fire departments offer homeowners free tips and even in-home advice and inspections at no cost. If you would like a referral for a great professional to tackle any of the fire safety checks above, or for any home maintenance, give us a call! We are always happy to share the names of the wonderful professionals we have used for both personal and client projects.