October is Fire Prevention Month and here in Colorado we’re all too familiar with the dangers of wildfires during the hot summer months. But what about in our homes? According to the National Safety Council, the risk of household fires increases as we head into the cooler months. Here are a few ways you can fireproof your home:
Check smoke alarms
Smoke alarms play a critical role in providing early warnings of a fire. Make sure to periodically check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working correctly. If you live in an older home that does not have a smoke alarm system, have one installed immediately.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy
It may seem like a slight eyesore in the living room or kitchen, but keeping a fire extinguisher in the house could be the difference between life and death.
Don’t overload your wiring
One of the main causes of home fires is electrical short circuits. Never overload your electrical wiring. If you see any old and frayed wires running from electrical appliances to the wall outlet, replace them immediately. When installing an electrical device, have a licensed electrician check the wiring to ensure that there is no chance of an overload.
Get a cat
… or a dog. Rats, mice, and other rodents love to chew on electrical cords and insulation. House pets like cats and dogs kill rodents and keep them away from your home.
Clear any clutter
Old newspapers, boxes, clothes, etc. are often dumped in a closet, garage or attic and left there for long periods of time. These are all flammable materials and even the smallest of sparks can cause trouble. Make it a habit to clean out the junk from your home every couple of months. Not only will your home be safer, but there will also be less chance of pests making homes there.
Maintain your furnace
Your furnace is in your home to do one job – to produce heat. It uses fire to do so too. Make sure you (correctly) replace the filter every 3-4 months to prevent any clogging or overheating. Also make sure that nothing flammable is stored near the furnace. If your furnace needs repair, call in a professional. Tampering with the setup and settings of a furnace is very dangerous.
Maintain your yard
Fires can start inside or outside your home. If you live here in the Front Range where fires are more likely, you should focus on creating a fireproof zone around your home. This zone should be filled with low vegetation like grass, and it should extend more than 100 feet in all directions around your home. Now that fall is here, make sure to remove dry leaves from your lawn and trim back bushes and trees.
Never take the dangers of fire for granted. Although fireproofing minimizes the chances of a fire in your home, you are never 100% immune to the danger. That’s why it’s very important to make sure that your family has a fire escape plan. Make sure everyone knows the fastest way to get out of the house (and a backup route in case something is blocked), and where to meet up once outside.