October: National Fire Prevention Month

Fire PreventionOctober brings shorter and cooler days and reminds us that winter is just around the corner. It’s a great time for you and your family to spend more time indoors and that means the chances of fire increases.

October is National Fire Prevention Month and we would like to remind you of some simple steps you can take to prevent home fires.

Test your Smoke Detector

Most homes have smoke detectors. These are simple devices that detect smoke in the home and alert you if it is detected. October is a great month to check and replace your batteries. Tests should be performed monthly. Simply press the small button that says “test.” If you do not hear a piercing beep or squeal, then your battery needs to be replaced. If your home does not have a smoke detector, they can be bought at your local hardware store. If you cannot afford a smoke detector, contact your local fire department, many have programs to give out free or low cost detectors.

Consider Purchasing a Fire Extinguisher

Every home should have a fire extinguisher. A multipurpose extinguisher can contain and put out small fires. You should use them only when the fire is contained (such as in a trash can), hasn’t spread to surrounding areas and the room isn’t filled with smoke. It’s a great idea to store fire extinguishers in the kitchen or in other areas where fires might start. Please read the instruction manuals and be familiar with the steps before a fire breaks out.

Because it is getting cooler, you may start up your heaters or begin to build fires in their fireplaces. During National Fire Prevention Month, take a little time to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Over the summer, dust can accumulate on electric heaters. Wiping them with a clean damp cloth will at least prevent some unpleasant scents as the debris burns away. If you have an indoor furnace, change out your filters, and check to see if there is any dust on the lighting mechanism. Wood burning fireplaces or pellet stoves pose their own risks. These fireplaces must be cleaned of creosote, a type of carbon deposit. While some deposits are easily removed by scraping and can be done yourself, many times a professional chimney sweep can do the job more easily.

After you clean out your heaters, please make sure that all flammable materials are stored away from the heaters. Papers, pet beds and clothing should be kept away from the heat sources at all times. Never store hazardous materials such as gasoline or propane near a heat source.

Lastly, we encourage you to think about your home and daily activities. It is easy to think that a fire will never happen to me but a little bit of fire prevention goes a long, long way.

Most residential fires occur in the kitchen. Never ever leave food cooking on the stove, in the microwave or in the oven without proper supervision. Accidents happen quickly and even stepping out for a minute can result in a disaster.

It never seems we have enough electrical outlets. In this day of computers, DVD players, stereo systems and gaming platforms, it is easy for you to overload your electrical outlets. Using multiple extension cords and power strips will greatly increase the chances that an outlet or electrical wire will overheat, especially in older homes. Remember, there’s a reason outlets only have two plugs.

While it seems that the number of people smoking is decreasing, smoking in the home still poses a huge risk. You should always use caution when smoking indoors. A lit cigarette can smolder for hours before bursting into flame. Smoking outdoors can also pose risks. If the weather has been dry, don’t flick your cigarette out into the grass. Many acres of land have been destroyed by carelessness. Please dispose of your cigarettes responsibly.

By following these simple rules many home fires can be prevented. We hope that National Fire Prevention Month is a safe one for everyone.