Firefighters work tirelessly to keep communities safe, but local homeowners and business owners should also take proactive fire safety measures to bolster their courageous efforts. U.S. fire departments respond to about 350,800 structural fires annually, causing an estimated $7.3 billion in damage.
Luckily, fire hazards are often preventable, so let’s discuss a few essential and practical safety tips that firefighters want you to know.
Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are the first line of defense against any potential indoor fires. Nearly 3 out of 5 fire deaths will occur in homes without functional smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Firefighters advise installing at least one smoke alarm on all building levels—especially inside each bedroom or office space. Also, test the smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year to ensure working order.
Determine a Fire Evacuation Plan
Creating an evacuation plan ahead of time will increase the chances of everyone being able to escape if a fire occurs. Work together to iron out a plan that’s easy to remember and consists of multiple exit routes from each room. Then, rehearse this plan consistently so that all building occupants know what to do in an emergency. You should also agree on a central location outside the building to reunite and confirm each person is safe.
Be Careful with Heating Equipment
More residential fires ignite in the winter than any other season, reports the NFPA—and heating equipment is one of the main reasons. Firefighters stress the importance of using indoor heat sources responsibly in these colder months.
Keep all furniture, linens, curtains, and similar items at least 3 feet away from space heaters, furnaces, stoves, radiators, or fireplaces. Finally, schedule regular maintenance checks to make sure the equipment is functional.
Exercise Caution When You Cook
According to the NFPA, nearly 45 percent of all home fires reported across the U.S. start in the kitchen. Moreover, 42 percent of all fire-related injuries and 18 percent of fatalities result from cooking mishaps. Be alert around stove tops, ovens, microwaves, and other electrical kitchen appliances.
Never turn your back—especially with oils or high heat—and if a grease fire occurs, do not pour water on it. Cover the pan with a lid or use a fire extinguisher.
Store Flammable Materials Safely
Many homes and office buildings have flammable materials, such as cleaning products, fuel tanks, and paint cans. It’s crucial to manage and store these materials safely to prevent accidental fires. Keep all combustibles in the original containers with airtight lids, then store them in a well-ventilated spot away from heat sources or open flames.
If you have children, make sure this storage area is out of their reach (while still accessible for you).
Take Proactive Measures with These Fire Safety Tips
Not only will these five action steps benefit your home or business—they can also contribute to a much safer community. Doing your part to minimize fire hazards can help lower the risk of emergencies while ensuring a fast and effective response in case a blaze ignites.
Fire safety is a collective effort, and each step (however small) leads to positive outcomes. So, don’t overlook these critical measures. They’re some of the most essential actions you can take to come alongside your local fire department and become a part of the long-term solution.