How to Avoid a House Fire [11 Life-Saving Tips]

How to Avoid a House Fire - Lee Company

The smell of smoke, the sound of fire trucks in the distance, and the sight of your home burning are things you never want to experience. But a house fire occurs every 89 seconds in the United States and can become deadly in as little as 30 secondsWe don’t say this to scare you but to prepare you. Because knowing how to prevent a fire (or what to do if a fire does occur) could save your life. October is Fire Safety Month, so there’s no better time to give you some fire safety information. Here are 11 fire safety tips that could protect your home and save a life.

Test smoke detectors regularly

That beeping smoke detector isn’t just annoying – it’s life-saving. Smoke detectors are your first line of defense against a house fire. If they’re not working, you may not know there’s a fire until it’s too late.

Make sure to test smoke detectors monthly by holding the “test” button down for about 5 seconds. If it’s working properly, you’ll hear a loud beeping sound that will stop if you remove your finger from the button. If it’s not working, replace the batteries immediately.

You should also vacuum your smoke detectors regularly to clear out any dust that might have accumulated. Change the batteries annually or more often if they start beeping.

Pro tip: manufacturers recommend the replacement of smoke detectors every 10 years.

Have a working fire extinguisher handy

If you can put out a fire before it gets too big, you’ll save yourself and your family from potential danger. A fire extinguisher is an important fire safety tool; you should have at least one in your home.

The mistake a lot of people make is letting their fire extinguisher expire. Check the expiration date and pressure gauge regularly to see if it needs to be replaced. You should also know how to use it properly before a fire occurs.

Create a home fire escape plan

No one in your home should be caught off guard if a fire does start. That’s why it is important to create a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with your family. This is even more important if you have young children or elderly family members.

Your fire escape plan should include:

  1. A drawing or picture of your home’s floor plan (this helps kids understand the layout of your home better)
  2. Two ways to exit every room in your home
  3. A meeting place outside where everyone will meet once they’ve escaped the fire
  4. Year-round practice runs

Practice your fire escape plan regularly, and make sure everyone in your home knows it by heart. 

Don’t leave candles unattended

The flicker and ambiance of candles might make your home feel cozier, but they’re actually one of the leading causes of house fires. Never leave a candle unattended, and make sure to keep them away from flammable objects and out of reach of children. 

Consider using flameless LED candles instead. They have the same look and feel as real candles without fire.

Be careful when cooking

The #1 cause of house fires is cooking, so it’s important to be extra careful when you’re in the kitchen.

Fire prevention tips to keep your kitchen safe:

  1. Don’t leave food unattended on the stove; keep an eye on what you’re cooking.
  2. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen for even a minute.
  3. Keep your stovetop clean — grease and food build-up can easily catch fire, so wipe it down regularly. 
  4. Keep your counters tidy and keep flammable items away from the stovetop burners.
  5. Be especially careful with deep frying – hot oil can easily catch fire.

If a grease fire does start when you’re cooking, never try to put it out with water. This will only make it worse. Use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to smother the flames.

And if the fire is too big or you can’t put it out, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Never go back inside for anything – not even your pets.

Use appliances safely

Generators, portable space heaters, curling irons, and other appliances can be fire hazards if they’re not used properly.

When using a generator, ensure it’s in a well-ventilated area outside your home – never use it inside.

Portable space heaters should also be used at least 3 feet away from flammable objects and never left unattended. And unplug appliances if you’re not using them.

Know how to detect a gas leak

Did you know the rotten egg smell associated with gas leaks is actually added to natural gas so we can detect them? If you ever smell gas in your home, open some windows and get out immediately. Don’t turn on any lights, electrical appliances, or anything else that could cause a spark – this could ignite the gas and cause an explosion.

Once you’re safe from the house, call your gas company or a gas leak detection company. Don’t go back inside until you get the thumbs up that it’s safe.

Keep flammable and combustible materials away from heat sources

Whether you have a fire going in your fireplace or an oil lamp for ambiance, it’s important to keep any flammable and combustible materials away from heat sources. 

Common flammable household materials include:

  1. Newspapers, books, and magazines
  2. Curtains and drapes
  3. Clothes
  4. Towels
  5. Rugs
  6. Blankets
  7. Wooden furniture

Make sure there are at least 3 feet between heat sources and any of these materials.

Have your chimney inspected annually

Nothing is cozier than a crackling fire in the fireplace on a cold winter night. But if your chimney is dirty or damaged, it could easily start a fire. That’s why it’s important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a professional.

The best time for a chimney inspection is late summer or early fall before you plan to start using your fireplace for the colder seasons. A professional can remove any soot or debris built up and repair any damage to your chimney is safe to use.

Perform regular maintenance on electrical equipment

Your electrical system is one of the most fire-prone areas in your home, so it’s important to perform regular maintenance and repair any damage as soon as possible.

Preventative electrical maintenance you can do yourself includes:

  1. Regularly checking extension cords and power strips for fraying or damage (and replacing them if necessary)
  2. Unplugging appliances when they’re not in use
  3. Avoiding overloading outlets by using too many plugs at once
  4. Replacing any damaged or missing outlet covers
  5. Upgrading your home’s electrical system if it’s outdated

You should also have a professional electrician inspect your home’s wiring and perform any necessary repairs or upgrades at least every 3-5 years.

Additional safety tips for homes with children or pets

When you have children or pets in the home, there are some additional fire safety measures you should take to protect them:

Fire safety tips for kids:

  1. Keep matches and lighters out of reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach your kids that these items are not toys and should never be played with.
  2. Install child-proofing devices on fireplaces and stoves.
  3. Never leave young children unattended in a room with an open flame.

Fire safety tips for pets:

  1. Keep your pets’ sleeping area away from any heat sources like fireplaces, space heaters, and radiators.
  2. Never place candles or oil lamps where your pets can knock them over.
  3. Make sure your pet has a collar with ID tags in case they get lost during a fire.

You may also need to discuss with your family why pets (and other personal belongings) are not as important as human life and how best to handle them in an emergency.

Comprehensive fire safety services

At Lee Company, we want to do everything we can to help keep your family safe from fire. That’s why we offer comprehensive home fire safety services, including electrical and gas line inspections and repairs. We can also install fire sprinklers, carbon monoxide detectors, and other fire safety devices in your home.

Please contact us today if you have any questions about fire safety or would like to schedule a service. We’re here to help you keep your family safe and fire-free!

Need fire safety services?

CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000