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In the time it will take you to read this article, it is estimated that at least three structure fires will have started somewhere in the United States. Each year more than 4000 Americans die and approximately 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented.

Preventing House FiresWe live in very flammable environments. Our houses and their contents easily burn. A mattress can become fully involved in flames within two minutes. The most common house fire begins in the kitchen and involves some type of cooking situation, killing 150 persons annually. Cigarette-caused fires are less frequent, but more deadly, claiming 600 lives per year. Another 220 deaths occur each year from heating sources such as fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters.

As winter approaches and we burn more candles, leave holiday lights and fireplaces glowing, it’s a good time to remember these fire protection tips:
  • Install smoke detectors in each bedroom and check or replace the batteries quarterly. Pick dates you will remember, such as your birthday, spouse’s birthday and child’s birthday.  
  • Never leave candles burning unattended. Make sure to place the candles carefully away from anything flammable and always extinguish them before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Develop a home fire escape plan. Practice it with your family and make sure everyone knows the plan and can execute it in an emergency.
  • Keep a properly maintained fire extinguisher and fire blanket handy in the kitchen and know how to use them in an emergency.  
  • Be careful not to overload circuits or extension cords. This is especially tempting to do during the holiday season. Be sure to follow the limits noted on the extension cords. Unplug unused items to reduce the overloaded circuits.
  • Give portable heaters lots of space; keep combustible items at least three feet away. Never use an oven or stove or camp-stove for a heat source.
  • If you use a fireplace regularly, use a screen to protect against rouge sparks and ashes. Have the chimney serviced by a qualified chimney sweep each year and remember that, when disposing of ashes from a fireplace or wood-burning stove, they remain “hot” for days. Always dispose of them in metal containers with tight-fitting lids. If possible, wet the ashes prior to covering the pail. Store the container away from deck, garage or any other flammable materials. Once the ash has completely cooled, they can be added to mulching piles or spread through the garden.  
Use these safety tips and be vigilant about watching for dangerous potential situations to keep your home and family safe. Finally, be sure to check with your local homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure that you are have adequate fire insurance coverage in the event of a fire this year and protect your family and your home from sparks gone awry.

By Matt Reynolds - Google+
Posted 5:50 PM

Tags: safety, home
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