Did you know that October is Fire Prevention Month? The timing of this important month of awareness isn't coincidental. October is the beginning of fall and, therefore, the beginning of the season where most Americans start heating their homes for the winter. The National Fire Protection Association reports that home heating equipment is the second biggest cause of house fires, making October a timely reminder to begin thinking about how to protect your home and your family this winter. Here are five important tips for fire prevention from our REALTORS®.
- Install and maintain smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors are your earliest warnings of a house fire, especially at night when everyone is sleeping. Generally, Ashland homes for sale should have a smoke detector on every level and one outside every bedroom or sleeping area. A smoke detector in or near the kitchen is also advisable but should be at least 10 feet away from the stove and oven to avoid false alarms. Check all smoke detectors once a month to ensure they are operating correctly, and replace the batteries once a year.
- Keep fire extinguishers on every level of your home.
If a small fire breaks out, you may be able to extinguish it before it gets big enough to threaten your home and your family. To help with prevention, keep fire extinguishers on every level of your home and ensure every family member knows how to operate them and where to find them in an emergency. Keep the fire extinguishers near potential hazards, such as in the kitchen where the cooking takes place and in a room where a space heater is used.
- Double-check outlets for safety.
At least once a year, you should go around the house and assess your power outlets to ensure they are all operating safely. Watch for signs that a power outlet has become hazardous, such as if the outlet is hot or cords plugged into it have started to fall out easily. Also, remove the cover and visually inspect the wires for any signs of damage, including fraying or melting.
- Operate space heaters safely.
According to the NFPA, space heaters are the leading cause of home heating equipment fires. While these small heaters provide an important additional heat source for many families, they can be unsafe if not operated in carefully controlled conditions. For optimum safety, keep at least three feet of open space around your space heater to avoid overheating blankets or curtains and causing them to combust. Never run the space heater at night or when no one is home, and never run it on an extension cord. Plug the space heater directly into the wall outlet.
- Don't leave candles burning unattended.
Burning candles are a popular way to freshen a home or set a mood, but candles cause two percent of home fires, peaking around the holidays and in January. In most cases where a candle started a house fire, the candle was left unattended or abandoned, or the occupants fell asleep. Rather than leaving scented candles burning before an open house or tour, we now recommend finding another way to discreetly freshen the home, such as opening windows, baking cookies, or using a subtle spray air freshener.
Buying or selling a home this winter? Many of these precautions will already be in place thanks to housing regulations and home inspections. Contact us for more information about smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and what to expect as a homebuyer or seller.