We all want to feel safe inside our homes. Yet sometimes we will do things carelessly or unknowingly that create the potential for disaster. If we implement a little forethought and care, it can go a long way in helping minimize the risk of fire.
While the potential for a fire can happen from many different sources, here are a few items that you can check in your home without too much trouble, along with some tips for being prepared in the event of fire.
Potential Fire Hazards that are easy to avoid.
Don’t use splitters on your outlets. This overloads the circuit and can create a fire hazard. A Power bar with surge protection will minimize overloading but they also require replacement over a period of time.
Check all small appliance cords and plugs for any frays or damage and have them repaired or replaced. Get in the habit of unplugging small appliances when not in use. Some of these may include a coffee maker, toaster, curling iron, hair dryer etc. With no power going to them there is no risk.
Extension Cords/ Power Bars
Extension cords are not meant to be used as permanent wiring. If you must use a cord make sure it is the same gauge (thickness) as the appliance, they are free of nicks, cuts, frays , are not spliced and held together with electrical tape , never run them under rugs or through walls and keep them away from any heat source or areas where they can be damaged. A Power bar is a better alternative to extension cords but caution is still advised. Make sure the power bar is ULC rated and is equipped with surge protection. Over time these will require replacement. The more they trip the weaker they get.
Electric Baseboard Heaters (Permanent)
Keep any combustible materials sufficiently away from electric baseboard heaters, Furniture, bedding, drapes, curtains, appliance plugs, children’s toys, magazines etc should be kept well clear from any electric baseboard heaters. Clean at least once a year and remove any visible debris immediately
Electric Heaters (Portable)
If you use a portable heater make sure it is ULC rated, it is equipped with a tip over safety switch along with overheating protection. Never leave them unattended, keep all combustibles a minimum of 3 feet away, and turn them off when going to bed, it is safer to add an extra blanket.
What is this you say? It is the use of improper bulbs for a particular light fixture. Putting the wrong size bulb into a light fixture creates the potential for overheating and melting of the fixture which creates a fire hazard. If you have a chandelier that says 100 watts and it has space for five bulbs the total of those 5 bulbs should not exceed 100 watts. If a lamp says 60 watts don’t use 100 watt.With the slow demise of the incandescent bulb this doesn’t appear as often, but it is still something to remember when you need to replace a bulb in a light fixture.
Have you ever had a pot light go out then come on again a little while later? This is probably caused by the thermal safety switch turning the light off due to excessive overheating then permitting the light to come back on after a sufficient cooling period. Pot lights put out a lot of heat, and the proper type, installation, and bulbs is required to prevent overheating. Always use approved bulbs for the fixture and if overheating is suspected contact a professional for further evaluation.
This is obvious but it never hurts to mention. Never leave candles or incense unattended, keep them far away from combustible materials, don’t allow children near them, and make sure they are extinguished before going to bed.
Gasoline / Other Flammables
I would say obvious, but I come across this now and again. Store all flammable products outside in a shed or detached garage in an appropriate container. Your home has ignition sources (furnace for one) that can potentially ignite any fumes created by flammables that are in close proximity.
A wood burning fireplace is meant for burning wood. (Dry seasoned wood) It is not an incinerator. Avoid burning plastics, colored papers, painted wood, pizza boxes etc as these create toxins and there is also a danger that the flames created from these materials may enter the chimney and ignite the creosote deposits in the flue.It is recommended to have fireplaces cleaned and inspected yearly by a professional.
Your dryer creates lint and keeping the exhaust vent clean reduces the potential for fire.
You can read more about drying vent safety here.
Make sure you and your family are prepared by having :
Minimum of one per floor. It is highly recommend installing one in every bedroom (sleeping areas) along with one per floor
Test smoke detectors monthly. – this can easily be done with the end of a broom
Replace batteries regularly – here is a tip, replace batteries when daylight savings arrives and the clocks change
Smoke alarms have an expiry date. Any smoke detectors older than 10 years require replacement. The date can be found on the side or back of the smoke detector. If you cannot find a date, replace it.
A large majority of fires start in the kitchen during cooking. Have a fire extinguisher nearby, they are relatively inexpensive and provide additional safety.
There are many choices for the different types of fires; a recommended home fire extinguisher should be rated for type A, B and C.
Remember to use the PASS method when using a fire extinguisher.
Pull – pull the pin
Aim – it Low at the base of the fire
Squeeze – squeeze the handle releasing the extinguishing agent
Sweep – from side to side aiming at the base of the fire
Means of Emergency egress (escape)
Each bedroom must have two means of escape during an emergency. Unless the bedroom has a secondary door that leads to the outside, a window is usually used. Make sure there is a clear path to the window, that the opening of the window is minimum 5.7 sq.ft and that it is easily accessible. Sills above 44” should have a ladder installed, and if you have bars on the windows make sure they can be removed or opened without the use of any tools (keys/wrench etc). Make sure windows open easily and a clear path is available on the outside.
Make a plan for each room
Go to each room in your home and ask yourself if a fire were to happen and I was in this room, what is the safest way out? Discuss with your family the escape routes for each room and the designated place for meeting once everyone is able to vacate. You may also want to share your fire escape plan with any people who frequent your home on a regular basis,or stay overnight ,like friends of children, other family members and the babysitter.
While these are just a few fire hazards and safety tips, obtaining a professional home inspection will be able to identify many more potential hazards within a home, and can alert you to any safety issues before they become dangerous.
Blue Owl Inspections provides Professional Reliable Home Inspection services throughout the Lower Mainland.
Call today and experience the difference from a home inspector that CARES!