“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.”
– Poet Robert Herrick
As spring prepares its welcome dawn on the American Midwest and families prepare for spring cleaning season for the scary thought of finding out just what’s been gathering dust in the attic, it’s a prime time to go over smart home fire prevention measures, for as a popular fire proverb reminds us, fire takes no holiday.
In 2014 alone, the National Fire Prevention Association statistics show, a home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds and one civilian fire death was reported every 2 hours, 41 minutes. U.S. structure fires caused $9.8 billion in property damage in 2014. Just earlier this year, home fire tragedy hit in Rewey, Wis., when a March 4 home fire destroyed a house, killing two people in the southwest Wisconsin community.
“Spring is the perfect time for a refresher on fire safety tips that should be followed year-round to make home fires less likely to happen,” the NFPA’s Lorraine Carli said. “Keeping fire safety in mind when adding things to a to-do list, like cleaning a dryer’s lint filter after each load of laundry and keeping the stovetop clean and clear of clutter will help prevent fires.”
Here’s a Spring Home Fire Safety Check List all home owners should perform:
- The most important and essential fire prevention measure: Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries immediately if needed. Remember, as the NFPA reports, working smoke detectors cut the chances of dying in a home fire in half. Working smoke detectors should be installed outside every sleeping area and on every floor.
- Check your fire extinguishers.
- Check for overloaded or damaged extension cords and replace where needed.
- Practice your family’s fire escape plan so everyone – especially young children – know what to do in case of an emergency. Once fire breaks out, escaping a home without a planned evacuation route is extremely difficult.
Time is of the essence. Once a home fire escalates into a fully engulfed blaze, it can be even difficult for firefighters to get into rescue people. In the March 4 Rewey, Wis., blaze, firefighters had no route in to rescue the home’s occupants.
“There was no way of getting in there we we arrived,” Rewey fire chief Lavern Naeger told the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald. “(There was) nothing but flames in front of the house. There were flames shooting out of the windows.”
- Check windows to ensure they open and close properly in case they are needed as exits.
- Properly and safely store household chemicals away from children, and never mix cleaning agents.
- Make spring Recycle Season: Be sure to clean your home of fire’s favorite cleaning: Get rid of old newspapers, magazines and junk mail, which can quickly pile up and enable fires to spread quickly.
- Check and clean filters above the stove. Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
- Vacuum and dust refrigerator coils.
- Be sure to keep stairs and landings clear for safe evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Remember, don’t let your American Dream and your family’s future go up in smoke: Practice smart spring home fire prevention measures.