October is Fire Safety Month, so we thought we would provide you with a checklist of things you need to do to make sure you and your family are safe from fire hazards in your home.
During the winter months, the Canadian Red Cross has to support more people affected by home and apartment fires than in any other season. With this in mind, we want to encourage you to take a few minutes to go through your residence and ensure that everything is safely in order for the coming months.
- You should have a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on every floor in your home and especially near all bedrooms. Also, check batteries in both on a regular basis, if not self-recharging. It is recommended you change batteries when you move the clocks forward and back (spring and fall).
- If you have them, make sure that your fire sprinklers are properly installed. Studies show that automatic sprinkler systems are the most effective way to protect against the dangers of a fire in the home. It’s important to make sure they are unobstructed (you’d be surprised at how many people hang clothing from them!) and that they have been recently tested. If you notice an issue yourself, leave all maintenance to the professionals so you know it’s done right. Detached homeowners and many in town homes are on their own to ensure they were correctly installed and are reliable. They aren’t necessarily required to be tested annually, so make sure yourself!
- Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home. You should especially have one in the kitchen, attached garage and basement.
- Check to see if your dryer exhaust vent is clean and has not become a fire hazard. Poor or inappropriate dryer exhaust venting can lead to a buildup of lint, which can be a major fire hazard. While it’s important to clean the lint out of the filter every time you start a load, it is equally important to be aware of how clean your dryer vent is – behind the appliance – and the type of exhaust vent materials being used. It’s also important to note that the use of vinyl flexible pipe, which many homes still have installed, is all but completely prohibited by clothes dryer manufacturers due to it also being a fire hazard.
- Be sure that nothing can come into contact with baseboard heaters, such as curtains, toys, dropped clothing/bedding or electrical wires.
- Store flammable liquids in approved containers and well away from heat sources.
- Make sure the fuses and circuit breakers in your electrical service panel are the correct amperage. Never replace a fuse or breaker that blows with a higher-amperage.
- Do not overload electrical outlets or run wires or extension cords under “permanent” carpets or furniture.
- Prepare an evacuation plan for your home and hold practice fire drills until every family member instinctively knows what to do in the event of an emergency, including where to meet once outside (arrange a spot at a safe distance away).
- On the exterior – clear away combustibles, such as dead branches, grass, shrubbery, fire wood, etc., which could be ignited.
- Have a reliable garden hose at the ready in case of a fire threat nearby (must be connected to a frost-free hose bibb, if left outdoors).
- Keep matches and lighters in a safe place, out of the reach of children. Never leave candles or fires burning unattended. Have wood and gas stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, furnaces and boilers checked at least once a year by a professional, or more frequently – depending on use.
- Make sure occupants are educated about basic risk factors for using a fireplace and ensure additional safety measures are adhered to.
If you follow this checklist, you will be able to rest easier knowing you have done everything in your power to protect you and your family from the dangers of a fire in the home.
Since October is Fire Safety Month, look out for more info this month on fire safety on our website, social media and our monthly newsletter.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the safety of your home, or have any home/building concerns, please contact Glenn Duxbury at Duxbury & Associates and we can help put your worries at ease!