It’s a sound you don’t want to hear. But if you do, you’ll be glad you did! Any idea what we are talking about? It’s a Smoke Alarm.
It does emit the most awful, high-pitched, ear-busting sound but that’s the whole idea – to alert you and get you to safety. Yet there are actually so many things you can do to prevent that ever happening, by avoiding as many fire hazards as possible from your home.
So we’ve put together a list of the 20 dos and don’ts’ for some of the most common fire risks in the home, which you can use as a checklist to add the security your fire/smoke alarm already provides (you do have one don’t you – and a fire extinguisher?). Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Keep heat-generating items like computers, TVs and cable boxes well ventilated.
2. Switch them off (and unplug if you can) when nobody is going to be around.
3. Store flammable items securely (locked if possible) in a cool area, away from flames.
4. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
5. Know which clothing and furnishing fabrics are flammable and keep them away from flames.
6. Use fireguards to protect against accidental contact with flames.
7. Avoid loose clothing, especially sleeves, when you’re using the stove.
8. If you leave items cooking, set an audible timer to remind you to check back.
9. Have the gas company check your appliances regularly.
10. Regularly inspect appliance wiring and plugs for signs of damage or heat.
11. Don’t use extension cords with space heaters (actually, always avoid them where possible).
12. Don’t plug too many items into 1 outlet or too high wattage a light bulb into a restricted fitting.
13. Avoid storing stacks of combustible material like paper that sometimes ignite by themselves.
14. Put a proper fitting over an exposed closet light bulb and don’t store items too close to it.
15. If there are smokers in the house: no smoking in bed or when they/you are sleepy.
16. Ensure all fire and dryer vents are clear and regularly cleaned.
17. Monitor all outside burning (yard fires, BBQs etc.) and extinguish them fully.
18. Position barbecues at least 10 feet from walls and fences when in use or cooling.
19. Don’t set electric blankets too high when you’re not there, or allow pets to sleep on them,
20. Workshop tools that throw out sparks should be used away from all combustible material.
Phew! We hope you’re still with us on this. You know, it’s a sad fact that well over three-quarters of fire deaths occur in the home, to say nothing of the injuries and losses of precious, sometimes irreplaceable, items.
So, please take a few moments to see how your fire safety at home stacks up against this list. While doing so, check the expiry date on extinguishers and the batteries in your smoke alarm. You’ll want to hear it, even though you’d rather not!