Friday, December 28, 2018

Prevention is Key to Fire Safety

As many as seven people die in the U.S. every day because of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), most of those fires start one-of-three ways, cooking, heating or electricity. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is prevent a house fire from starting. The NFPA issued guidelines for fire prevention. 

Cooking – 46% of house fires

Fires that start in the kitchen or on the grill are the most frequent. Forty-six percent of fires begin when someone is cooking; as many as 19 percent of those fires are deadly. The safety guidelines for cooking-fire prevention are simple to follow and should be followed every time you’re making food:

Be present. Always keep an eye on the food you’re frying, grilling, broiling, etc. Anytime you’re using heat to cook you should pay attention to what’s happening. If you have to walk away turn off the heat source.

Keep the area clear. You don’t want to accidentally set fire to an oven mitt or an empty macaroni box that was left too close to the stove. Make sure anything flammable is out of the way.

Be warned. Install smoke detectors at least 10 feet from cooking appliances. The Memphis Fire Department gives away smoke alarms to those who qualify. They will even install it for you so there is no excuse not to have a working smoke alarm. Visit the MFD website to apply.

Dont be a hero. If a fire starts in your kitchen leave and call 911.

Heating – 16% of house fires

Heating your home is another leading cause of house fires, and most of those fires start in December, January and February. Space heaters cause the majority of heating-related fires. The NFPA lists chimneys and placing flammable items too close to heating equipment as other leading contributors. Follow these prevention tips when heating your home:

Create a safe zone. Make sure there’s a zone of at least three feet around heating equipment like space heaters, fireplaces and furnaces. Things like furniture, bedding and curtains catch fire easily.
Keep them out of the safe zone.

Keep it clean. Creosote is a byproduct of wood-burning fires and it is highly combustible. Keep your chimney clean of creosote; have it professionally cleaned at least once a year.

Add a screen. Install a mesh screen or set of doors on your fireplace so sparks can’t shoot out.

Turn it off. Turn off all space heaters and other portable, heating devices every time you leave the house and every night before you go to bed.

Electrical – 9% of house fires

Electrical fires are the third-leading cause of house fires in the U.S. Electrical fires can be caused by failure or malfunction. You can help prevent these kinds of fires by taking the steps below:

Avoid overload. Only plug in one, high-wattage appliance per outlet at a time and always follow manufacturing guidelines regarding wattage needed for appliances. Overloading a circuit can cause wires to overheat, melt or catch fire.

Cord control. Replace or repair loose or damaged electrical cords. Avoid running extension cords in high-traffic areas or under rugs and carpets.

You may need help for the next two prevention measures--

Circuit smarts. Protect electrical outlets by installing arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) which help prevent electrical fires. The NFPA also recommends installing ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms. GFCIs will disconnect a circuit if it detects a current imbalance.

Call a pro. Contact a qualified electrician if you have problems with an outlet, a switch that is warm to the touch, lights that flicker or dim on their own or frequently tripped circuits or blown fuses.

Electricity is dangerous! Repairs are best left to someone who has been trained.

Visit #MLGW’s website for more home safety tips. #ServingYouIsWhatWeDo

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