In honor of Fire Prevention Month, we are bringing you another set of fire safety tips to protect your family and your home. Eighty percent of Americans don’t realize that home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation. And did you know that cooking fires are the most common type of home fire, followed closely by home heating fires? Read on for our top tips related to cooking and home heating safety.
Heat Your Home Safely During Cold Weather By Preparing All Year
Nearly half of American families use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm as the weather cools. A heating fire can be tragic for your family. We urge you to prepare your home for the winter months now if you haven’t done so already. Follow these tips:
- All heating equipment needs at least three feet of space. Keep away children, pets and things that can burn, such as paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets and rugs.
- If you must use a space heater, look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary. Contact an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean all the ducts. Remember to change your furnace filter each month during the winter and to remove all flammable material from the area around and near your furnace.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
NOTE: Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and silent killer that claims hundreds of lives each year in the U.S. When a carbon monoxide alarm sounds, treat the alert as a real emergency each time. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get quickly to fresh air, and then call 9-1-1.
Unattended Cooking is the #1 Cause of Cooking Fires. Safety Should Be Your Most Important Ingredient!
This year, an American Red Cross survey showed that about 70 percent of people have left the kitchen with food cooking on the stove. There’s nothing more fulfilling than cooking a good meal for the people we care about. But please make safety a priority in your kitchen to prevent the most common type of home fire:
- Never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period, for any reason, remember to turn off the stove! Most often, kitchen fires are caused by unattended cooking. It takes seconds for a serious fire to start and get out of control.
- Turn pan handles inward to prevent food spills and put them out of reach of children.
- Watch children closely in the kitchen and teach them about cooking safely when they’re old enough.
- Keep anything that could catch on fire away from your stovetop or grill. Keep curtains, towels and pot holders away from hot surfaces. Store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heat sources. Never keep gasoline in the house.
- Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent food and grease build-up.
- Remember to protect from burns by wearing short or close-fitting sleeves. Loose clothing can catch fire.
- Stay Alert! If you are tired or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or grill.
Smoke alarms save lives! Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check your alarms each month. Visit redcross.org/homefires for more safety tips and free resources. You can also download our free Emergency App to get important info in the palm of your hand.
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