Is your home at risk for a fire?
Real talk: If your home catches on fire, you have 3-4 minutes to escape. Thirty years ago, it was 15 to 17 minutes. What changed?
That’s right. Furniture used to be made with real wood and natural linens. As consumers seek to spend less money, these natural items have been replaced with particle board and polyester, which makes house fires spread faster. Not only that but we have more items in our homes which assist the fire in spreading from one thing to the next.
Risk of home fires increases during the holidays, and more specifically, the winter months.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more home fires occur during the winter months than any other season of the year because of cooking, candles, and Christmas trees/decor.
In 2019, the 3 leading dates for home structure fires caused by cooking were Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and Christmas Eve. For items that take a really long time to cook it can be tempting to run an errand but don’t do this! Be sure someone is home and regularly checking on anything you are cooking. If you’re frying, grilling, or boiling food, stay in the kitchen. And finally, keep EVERYTHING but cooking-safe pans and utensils away from the stove. Quick tips: Keep a lid near by when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. You do this buy sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stovetop. If you have an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Ooooh the smell of the holidays is just wonderful. Cookies, pine needles, peppermint… all smells bringing about happy memories that can be found in a freshly lit candle. While many homes have switched to diffusers and natural oils due to the toxicity of candles, you can still find them in most retail stores for purchase and likely in most homes.
The scary fact? 8% of winter fires start by candles; 11% of those are in December and January.
What can you do if you still want to burn candles? Never leave them unattended. And if you want the visual feeling of a burning flame without the risk of fire or toxic air, consider a battery-operated candle.
Christmas Trees and decorations
If you’re one of the 17% of Americans choosing to buy a real tree every year, you are increasing your risk of a house fire. As Christmas trees dry out (which they will, no matter how much water you give them), they become more flammable. Make sure it is away from vents and the fireplace. Before you put up the décor check to make sure your string lights don’t have loose connections, cracked lamps, or frayed cords. It’s recommended not to use multiple extension cords, and make sure all lights AND cords you’re using have UL approval. And finally, turn off all your lights at night.
The moral of the story is pay attention. Most of this information isn’t new, but it helps to have a reminder of fire safety during the holidays.
In additional to the holiday-specific warnings, follow this checklist to do your part in keeping your family safe from fires:
Test your smoke alarms every 30 days to make sure they’re working
Replace the battery in your smoke alarms every year
If your smoke alarm is older than 10 years, replace it!
Do you have alarms on every floor and in and outside all sleeping areas? If not, get them!
Clean your dryer vent
Replace old electronics
Don’t overload outlets
Keep space heaters away from, well, everything
If you’re looking for a new smoke detector, Forbes.com has great recommendations from wired detectors to battery detectors and even smart smoke detectors which can connect to the smart devices you already own.