October is Fire Safety Month:  Do you Have a Plan?

Do you know that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and approximately injure 20,000 more?  U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three quarters of them occurring in residences.  All the more reason to take fire safety seriously!  See: U.S. Fire Administration

Whether you are in Central Texas or Warner Robins Georgia, you should be acutely aware of the devastation that fire can cause.  During this month of October, which is designated as Fire Safety Month, set aside time to inspect and protect your home for fire.  Make sure your family is prepared in case of fire.

Here are 10 simple guidelines to help you avoid fires and reduce the risk of injury should one occur:

1.) Smoke Alarms – install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly

2.) Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords.  Cords and wires should never be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas.  Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet.

3.) Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use.  Follow the manufacturers safety precautions.

4.) Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit.  Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away.  Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.

5.) Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire.  Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

6.) Create An Escape Route – Create and practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house.  Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand.  It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.

7.) Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains.  If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly.  Additionally, keeping  your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.

8.) Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas.  Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete.  Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil.  Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build-up behind the dryer at least twice a year.

9.) Be Careful During the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire.  Check all of  your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.

10.) Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month.

It pays to follow these 10 steps and could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one!  Make this 2011 October fire prevention month count!

About the Author: Dorie Dillard is a Coldwell Banker United Realtor in Austin, Texas and has been specializing in NW Austin Real Estate for 21 years.

Take Fire Safety Seriously and Protect Your Loved Ones

About Anita Clark Realtor

Anita Clark has written 615 posts on this blog.

Anita is a residential Real Estate Agent in Warner Robins Georgia, with Coldwell Banker Access Realty (478) 953-8595, aiding buyers and sellers with all their real estate questions on her Warner Robins blog.