October is National Fire Prevention Month, and the Houston Fire Department has many guides for Texans looking to stay safe and aware of fire hazards. We've compiled a checklist of fire safety tips for you to protect yourself against some common causes of fire in the home.
Maintain All Smoke Detectors
A working alarm can prevent injuries and death at very little expense. The Houston Fire Department recommends changing the battery every spring and fall, as well as doing the following:
- Test the detectors every month.
- Tidy and vacuum the detectors at least once a year.
- Replace any detectors over 10 years old.
Prepare an Escape Plan
Fire extinguishers can put out small fires, but they require practice and specific situations for proper use. Stay safe and make a plan for any emergencies you cannot control.
- Go through your home and find at least two ways to escape from each area.
- If you have a family, designate a spot outside where members can meet for a headcount.
- Teach young children how to dial 9-1-1 during an emergency.
Stay Alert While Cooking
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and injuries. Don't add yourself to that statistic with careless cooking habits.
- Don't leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
- Keep your stovetop clean and free from flammable grease.
- If you have items that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, keep them away from the stove.
- Use all barbecue pits and gas grills outdoors, never indoors!
Put Out That Flame
Even a small flame can cause big damage. The National Fire Protection Association estimates an average of 24 candle fires reported each day with a peak during December. Fires caused by smoking, such as cigarettes and cigars, are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
- Remember to blow out all candles before you go out or head to bed.
- Purchase sturdy and secure candle holders to prevent candles from easily falling over.
- Trim candle wicks low for a smaller flame.
- Don't leave candles near curtains or decorations that can catch fire.
- If you smoke, try to smoke outside to avoid starting fires within the home.
- Keep your ashtray away from other burnable materials.
- Completely extinguish any butts and ashes.
Check Your Insurance
Unfortunately, fires can still happen despite preventative measures. Keep yourself armed with knowledge by speaking with your insurance company about your homeowner's policy. Contact us at Texan Insurance for more information about your coverage and what you can do to keep track of items that may be damaged in a fire.