The good news is home fires are on a downward trend as seen here in graphs from the U.S Fire Administrations website
However, homes built in recent decades burn up to eight times faster than comparable homes built between 1950 and 1970.
Many factors are causing fires to burn faster and fiercer. For one, homes are bigger and often have open floor plans, yes it looks great but as a result fire spreads with fewer barriers. Plus all that open space accelerates fires by allowing for faster airflow and more oxygen. Most problematic though are the materials used to decorate homes. Our houses are literally filled with them: Everything from furniture and clothing to carpeting contain these fast-burning substances.
Given that our homes are literally flammable, fire prevention and awareness have never been more important.
Fire prevention starts with you and the many things you can do yourself at home AND knowing the things you should NOT do yourself. (I’m not going to include the common sense stuff like don’t leave candles burning unattended with your five kids and three large dogs in a room full of old newspapers)
Lets start with DIY list –
~ Anything that can burn should be at least three feet away from heating equipment like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or space heater.
~ Invest in interconnecting smoke alarms (see below)
~ Mark a calendar to remind you to do monthly smoke detector tests, to schedule annual heating equipment inspections/chimney cleaning, and to do an annual cleaning of the vent pipe from your dryer to remove lint.
~ All fuel burning equipment should be vented to the outside of the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. During the winter check the outdoor vent flaps to make sure it is not blocked by ice or snow.
~ Extension cords should NEVER be used for major appliances, they should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords are intended for temporary use, you can always have more receptacle outlets installed by a professional if needed.
~ Try to plug in only one heat-producing appliance (toaster oven, coffee maker etc) per receptacle outlet.
Just call a Pro list –
~ For stationary space heaters, water heaters and central heaters and installing wood burning stoves always use a professional.
~ Have ALL electrical work done by a qualified electrician. and call them if your having problems with circuit breakers/fuses, if you feel a tingling when you touch an appliance or if you notice warm or discolored outlets.
~ Consider installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters are a kind of circuit breaker that automatically shuts off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs.