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How to Prevent a House Fire

Posted: February 11, 2019

Fire prevention is more important than may realize. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 30,763 fires occurred in the first half of 2017. If you want to avoid being a part of this statistic, practice these general fire prevention practices to keep your home safe:

  1. Clear your home’s surroundings of debris and combustible materials.

  2. Maintain your lawn and keep bushes and trees trimmed.

  3. Use fire-resistant materials when building or updating your home.

  4. Make sure your home has a fully functioning fire alarm system.

  5. Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher in an easily accessible place.

  6. Practice appropriate fire safety measures with campfires.

  7. Prepare a fire safety plan.

Many people think about the safety and security of their family, but they often overlook the dangers posed by fires. In 2015, the National Fire Prevention Agency reports that fires accounted for 7 billion dollars in damages to homes and resulted in 2,650 civilian deaths and 11,075 injuries. Fire safety can make all the difference in fire-prone areas and can help to prevent wildfires from spreading in dry, hot locations. Rather than letting a normal fire get out of hand, keep it contained by arming your home with the appropriate fire protections.

california wild fires

Case in point: California’s struggle with wildfires

Western states are particularly prone to the dangers of wildfires. High temperatures and dry conditions are the perfect recipe for spreading the wildfires that sweep across miles and miles of acreage each summer. National Geographic reports that, “On average, more than 100,000 wildfires, also called wildland fires or forest fires, clear 4 million to 5 million acres (1.6 million to 2 million hectares) of land in the U.S. every year.”

Being one of the hottest and driest states, California is no stranger to the dangers of wildfires. In 2016 alone, California was subject to 6,986 fires which burned 565,070 acres. Drought conditions that are common in Western states make it even more important to have fire prevention measures in place. Dry, brittle brush and extreme temperatures can turn a minor mishap into a raging blaze. But remember, these dangerous events are largely preventable.

According to Cal Fire, 95% of wildfires are started by people. Most house fires can be prevented with the proper fire prevention measures. Heed these tips to help prevent fires:

  • Maintain vehicles to avoid sparks: Avoid any hanging metal objects from underneath your vehicle, such as loose mufflers or exhaust pipes. Also, avoid dragging tools or chains from the rear that could cause sparks, leading to fires in dry areas. Keeping tires properly inflated and avoiding starting vehicles in areas with high brittle grasses are other ways to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Practice campfire safety to avoid house fires: Make sure campfires are properly contained in fire pits or shallow holes dug in the ground. Avoid campfires in drought conditions and high winds. Choose locations for campfires that are a safe distance from any fuels or debris that could easily catch fire. When finished, take extra fire safety precautions to ensure that campfires are fully extinguished using water and dirt.
  • Have fire extinguishers and shovels ready for dousing: Keep these items on hand in the event that conditions elevate more quickly than expected.
  • Consider a spark arrester on equipment in fire-prone areas: In many areas that frequently experience wildfires, spark arresters are required on portable tools and other machinery.

Across the United States, increasingly hot and dry conditions are making wildfires an issue for many Americans. According to CNN, the United States has already dealt with 27,943 wildfires which have consumed 2,577,471 acres as of June 22, 2017.

fire prevention safety tips

Fire prevention safety tips

In certain areas, small house fires can escalate to wildfires, becoming responsible for millions in damage and thousands of charred acres. Even when fires are largely confined to wildland, homes are can be swept up and swallowed in a matter of seconds.

California and other hot dry states know that fire safety methods are necessary to keep wildfires under control. The dangers are so prevalent that organizations such as Calfire are devoted to educating the public about proper fire prevention methods and safety during wildfires.

With a few precautions, you can seriously reduce the risk to your family and home.

protecting your home from fire

Protecting your home from house fires

You can take a few precautions to safeguard your home from potential fire hazards. Practicing these fire safety strategies will reduce your likelihood of having to clean up after a fire.

  • Use a smoke alarm that ties into a mobile app: Using a “smart” smoke alarm will alert you to dangers sooner by sending you notifications if dangerous conditions are detected. Often, these fire prevention devices can work with your security system to give you added protection. In the true fashion of the smart home, there are now many options available that will do the trick:
    • Nest Protect: This device is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It also ties in with the Nest thermostat and can be controlled via a mobile device.
    • Onelink: This Wi-Fi smoke and carbon monoxide detector works with Apple HomeKit to alert you immediately of any dangers.
    • Halo: Halo’s version of the smart smoke alarm informs you when something is wrong and sends a notification to your phone.
    • Roost Smart Battery: Do these options seem a little unreachable at the moment? You can always retrofit your existing alarms with the Roost Smart Battery. This 9-volt battery fits over the alarms you already have and will notify you via mobile app when an alarm sounds. As a bonus, the Roost Smart Battery will even alert you when battery levels are running low.
  • Keep your home clear of any outlying debris: Dispose of any combustible debris that surrounds your home. Clear away anything that could cause a house fire. In addition, keep low-hanging foliage trimmed and a safe distance from the outer reaches of your home.
  • Cover all openings with wire mesh: This fire prevention method keeps any blowing embers from entering your home and catching fire.
  • Safeguard your roof with fire-resistant materials: House fires are frequently started by blowing embers alighting on rooftops. FEMA recommends that homes in fire-prone areas take precautions by replacing roofing using fire-resistant materials. In addition, keep your gutters clean of all debris.
  • Store any combustible materials away from you home: Grills make for a great cookout, but are not wise to have close to your home when a fire is likely to occur.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in your home: When all else fails and a house fire does catch, having a fire extinguisher on hand can help you prevent the damage from spreading.

If you want to go the extra mile, check out these hidden fire hazards in your home.

fire prevention strategies

Fire prevention strategies for your family

In addition to arming your home, you can employ a few fire safety strategies to keep your family protected.

  • Keep an outdoor water supply with easy access for firefighters: Leave plenty of room for fire trucks to enter and attach to a water supply, if necessary.
  • Prepare an emergency plan with your family: Make sure all family members know what to do and where to go if a house fire occurs. Include an alternate meeting location if your home becomes inaccessible.
  • Assemble an emergency kit: Emergency kits can make a world of difference if you have to evacuate your home. Make sure to include first aid items, bottled water, food, identification information, any necessary prescriptions, additional clothing, a flashlight (don’t forget extra batteries), and a spare credit card or money.
  • If a wildfire is imminent, make arrangements for overnight stay in a safe area: If a wildfire is truly spreading to your home, you may be forced to stay away for several days. Make provisions in your fire safety plan for overnight stay for you and your family. Don’t forget about your pets!
  • Download the wildfire readiness app: Calfire offers a Ready for Wildfire mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app sends push notifications of impending fires, offers checklists for preparing your home and family, provides maps that show current fires, reports stats and information related to current wildfire events, and even supplies a series of videos to help educate yourself for wildfire readiness.
  • Protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke: Even if you have evacuated the immediate area of a wildfire, your family could still be harmed by the smoke generated by wildfires. Avoid inhaling smoke when possible. The CDC offers tips to protect yourself from the harmful smoke.

In the event of a house fire, your greatest asset is being prepared. Use these fire safety tips to help you prevent fires and keep your family protected.

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