Although we are not concerned about fire hazards every day, our homes contain multiple fire hazards that we need to understand and take precautions against.
FIRE AND SMOKE DETECTORS
Fire and smoke alarms are our first line of defense against flames. A fully functional fire alarm can save lives, so it is absolutely crucial you make sure your fire alarm is working properly. It is relatively simple to test your fire alarm regularly. If you can, simply press the button on the alarm to test it. If, for some reason, you cannot reach the alarm, ask a friend, family member, or someone you trust to come and test it for you.
By being responsible for your electricity and appliances, you can minimize the risk of electrical fires. Be careful not to overload electrical outlets: do not use multiple additional outlets and make sure the voltage of each outlet is appropriate for the device you are connecting. Also, be sure to turn off all non-essential equipment when not in use.
Avoid using damaged electrical cords and cables, and if you know your wiring is outdated, consider requesting an electrical inspection to get a clear picture of the condition of your home’s wiring.
BE CAREFUL WHEN COOKING
The kitchen is one of the most common sources of fire in the home because we use hot oils and fats, open flames, and extreme temperatures. However, while this is common, it is not necessarily inevitable: be careful when cooking and you can reduce the risk of fire.
Make sure that all materials such as paper and textiles are kept away from open flames, hotplates, and toasters. Avoid wearing loose clothing and long, loose-fitting sleeves, if possible. A stray arm can easily drift toward the cooktop and catch fire. If you must leave the room, temporarily turn off the cooktop and make sure that no flammable objects, such as wrapping or cloths, are left in the oven by accident during cooking.
If a fire breaks out during cooking, do not throw water over it. If you have a fire blanket, cover the flames if you can, but if not, get everyone out of the house and call the local department.
EXTINGUISH YOUR CANDLES
Light a candle for an evening atmosphere? Be sure to extinguish them before going to bed or if you plan to leave the room for a long period of time. Even if the flame of a candle is small, the candle just falls out and a room — and eventually your house — can catch fire.
MAKE AN ESCAPE PLAN
Whether you live alone or with roommates or family, make sure you know exactly what to do in the event of a fire. The most important thing is to know you can escape quickly in an emergency. For above-ground apartments, make sure you can quickly climb the stairs and activate your building’s fire alarm to alert other residents. At home, make sure you can get out quickly – keys should be within reach if the door is locked, and access routes to doors should be clear.
Once you have escaped, call the local department. Don’t try tackling a fire yourself: if you have a fire blanket, you may be able to use it to put out a French fry shop fire, but as soon as you see a fire developing or spreading, flee and alert the authorities.