U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home fires
in 2011. Take a walk around your house and implement a few quick fixes in five different areas of your home to help with fire prevention and protect your family:
- Kitchen. The majority of home fires start in the kitchen, so it's important to stay in the kitchen at all times when you're cooking food on the stovetop. Be prepared in case of a small kitchen fire, by keeping baking soda and a fire extinguisher on hand to put out a stovetop grease fire. It's also important to consider the space around the stove. Make sure that curtains, towel holders and other flammable items are kept at a safe distance away from the source of heat.
- Living room. Home is where the hearth is, but a fireplace can also be a source of house fires. There are lots of precautions to take to make your fireplace a safe and enjoyable feature in your home: install a screen in front of your fireplace or wood stove; store ashes in a metal container and dispose of them only when they're cold; ensure the fire is out before you leave the house or go to bed; have your chimney cleaned and your flue checked at least once each year as a precautionary step.
- Bedroom. To keep your bedroom fire-safe, turn off electric blankets when you're not using them; don't run electrical cords under your rugs, and make sure you repair and replace any frayed cords. Additionally, if you use a portable heater in your bedroom during winter-months, check that it's at least three feet away from any combustible objects, like curtains or bedding.
- Laundry room. About 2,900 dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. To prevent a dryer fire, clean the lint filter before and after every cycle, and have your dryer professionally cleaned and inspected every one to three years.
- Backyard. Grilling and using fire pits in your yard are great ways to entertain outdoors in the summer, but they're also sources of potentially dangerous fires. When cooking outside, keep your grill at least three feet from your house, away from walls and from dry branches or leaves, and never leave your grill unattended. Cleaning your grill and avoiding grease buildup is another way to prevent fires -- if you have a gas grill, check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it each year. When using portable fire pits, ensure you place it on a stable, fireproof surface such as concrete, stone or brick and keep it away from combustibles.
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