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How Do I Enhance Home Fire Safety?

Given even a few minutes, a house fire can get out of control, burning everything
unsplash-logoDaniel Tausis


By Cassandra Small

Home fires account for 75% of all structure fires and cost $6.7 billion in direct damage during the period 2011-2015. They are dangerous and deadly but are highly preventable. With an average of seven deaths a day due to home fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are things that you can do to improve safety in your abodes. From looking at structural issues to implementing preventive measures, fire safety can save many lives and avoid property destruction.

Failure of Electrical Distribution Systems - Third Leading Cause of Home Fires

Electrical fires are commonly caused by faulty wires or improper wiring. There are simple steps you can take to reduce electrical malfunctions on your property. One is to avoid using extension cords as permanent wiring. While these are a handy temporary solution for the lack of an outlet that you may use for up to 90 days according to OSHA, they are not adequate to support heavy duty appliances such as air-conditioners, ovens or space heaters. The chances of fires and short wiring are high if you use extension cords over a long period or permanently. Overloading your outlets can also cause many problems. If all the appliances connected to an outlet are turned on at the same time, it can trip your circuit breakers and cause permanent damage or fires.

Another fire hazard that you should pay attention to is leaving wires exposed or unprotected. For example, splicing wires may be needed to accommodate the installation of additional sources of heating. Spliced wires must be covered as they can cause fires especially if they are near to flammable materials. Moreover, electrical cables must also be secured properly to the wall because if they are damaged, they can spark and start a fire. If you are not sure of the safety of your electrical wiring, get a professional electrician to review your home connections and ensure that they are safe without risks of shocks and fires.

Install Fire Safety Devices and Systems

Smoke alarms and detectors can save human lives effectively with a 2015 NFPA study reporting that 3 out of 5 deaths that occurred in home fires had no alarms at all or had detectors that did not work properly. The same study found out that the death rate per hundred doubled in homes with no fire alarms than in abodes with smoke detectors.

Installing fire alarms in strategic places of your home such as bedrooms, hallways, living rooms with mounted fireplaces and the kitchen will enhance fire safety and reduce deadly fires from occurring. Testing them regularly to ensure that they are in a working condition also helps as replacing batteries, providing back-up power and changing systems after 10 years which is the expected life expectancy of a smoke alarm according to Consumerreports.org .

In addition to fire alarms, you should also install fire extinguishers and provide fire blankets in every floor of the house including the kitchen and the garage. Make sure that you know how to use it and check their validity dates. Escape ladders are also useful if you have second floors or more or a basement.

Last but not the least, it's always useful to have a fire safety and escape plan. Practice, so that exit points are marked and everyone knows what to do, where to go and whom to call.

Taking account of all these simple preventive practices can reduce the chances of a deadly fire averting loss of lives and property. It will be a shame if fires are not prevented just because of failure to implement best safety practices including checking electrical wires that are not compliant and installing fire detection systems.

Cassandra Small is a writer in the United Kingdom
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Get the book Make It Work - Hunting Ground Faults
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