Fire Safety Checklist: 20 Warning Signs Your Home Is at Risk
Think your home is safe from a fire? Think again. Your household can expect at least five fires in an average lifetime, according to the National Fire Protection Association
. At the national level, 360,000+ household fires are reported each year, and nearly all of them are avoidable with a few simple precautions outlined in "
Sign #1: Your Electric Kitchen Appliances Are Unclean
Make sure they are clean and that their cords and plugs are in good working order. Replace frayed or worn-out cords and plugs.
Sign #2: Your Appliances Are Not Certified
Ensure all appliances are certified by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (this will be indicated on the packaging).
Sign #3: The Kitchen Is Unclean
Keep cooktops and ovens clean to prevent grease fires.
Sign #4: Kitchen Curtains Are Too Close
Keep curtains away from cooktops and ovens.
Sign #5: Extension Cords Are Everywhere
Discard frayed or broken extension cords and do not run them under rugs or furniture or nail them into place.
Sign #6: Too Many Cords, One Socket
Don’t overload circuits by plugging too many appliances into one socket.
Sign #7: The Wiring Is Out of Whack
Never replace a broken fuse with a fuse of different amperage. Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers can signal that wiring is inadequate. Consult an electrician.
Sign #8: There's Lint Buildup in the Clothes Dryer
Clean the lint trap in your clothes dryer after every use -- lint is the most common cause of dryer fires. Once a year, remove lint from the hose attached to the back of the dryer.
Sign #9: There's Clutter in Hot Spots
Remove clutter -- especially anything flammable -- from around the furnace and water heater.
Sign #10: Flammable Liquids Run Overeth
Store gasoline and flammable liquids in airtight containers -- they emit gases that can ignite when they come in contact with a spark or pilot light.
Sign #11: Dirty Rags Are Lying Around
Dispose of oily rags (such as those used to oil furniture or wipe up motor oil) after each use in accordance with your community's sanitation guidelines. They are a fire hazard because as the oil ages, it oxidizes and produces heat, which can lead to spontaneous combustion.
Sign #12: Flammable Liquids Are in a Bad Spot
Never store flammable liquids beneath stairways or near exits: If they catch fire, an escape route will be eliminated.
Sign #13: The Rug Is in Front of the Fireplace
Put a spark screen in front of fireplaces and never lay a rug close to a fireplace.
Sign #14: You Last Cleaned the Chimney When... ?
Have your chimney cleaned when there is a buildup of 1/4 inch of creosote.
Sign #15: The Space Heater Is Near...
Keep space heaters and the like away from combustible materials, such as curtains, upholstery, bedding, and rugs. Never use one to dry clothing or other combustibles.
Sign #16: Smoking Litter Goes Unchecked
If someone smokes cigarettes in your home, dampen the butts before throwing them away.
Sign #17: Indoor Electrical Devices Are Outside
Never use electrical devices outdoors unless they are designed for that purpose.
Sign #18: Fire Starters Are in Easy Reach
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Sign #19: You Don't Have a Plan
Learn to extinguish fires! Place a fire extinguisher in any area of the house where a fire hazard exists: the kitchen, the garage, the top of the cellar stairs, and even in the bedroom. Teach everyone in your household how to use one.
Sign #20: You Don't Know What to Use
Never fight electrical or grease fires with water or baking soda. Use an extinguisher.