In the United States, every year about 2,500 people die in home fires.
Home heating fuels are costly. This high cost has caused many Americans to look for alternate sources of energy for home heating. The past few years have seen an increase in the sales of wood-burning stoves and space heaters. Fireplaces have also become common and this means burning wood and man-made logs.
These heating methods, though acceptable, are a major cause for residential fires. It is reported that most fire victims die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns. This data led safety experts to believe that this huge fire death toll could be greatly reduced if people knew more about how fires burn and what’s in the smoke they create.
However much we dismiss it, the fact that home fires are most common in winter looms over the head all the time. Numerous researches have paved the way to the development of various campaigns and programs to help reduce damage and loss of life in the home fires.
In 2008, the Alberta government rolled out a campaign after it accepted recommendations from the then recently established High-Intensity Residential Fires (HIRF) Working Group.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 1710 was created for benefits in the same line.
The main theme of these agencies was public education and the development of awareness campaigns that focus on what people require to do in those few minutes before the fire department reaches the spot. These are the most crucial moments that could mean the difference between life and death.
People were educated through the television and the Internet. Video clips broad-casted on television and announcements on the radio were most effective. This campaign also increased personal responsibility for fire safety among the people. They understood prevention of fires is most important. Next came detection of smoke and fire, and the importance of working smoke alarms; and finally, moving to safety, which was taught through fire escape plan.
The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
If you are using a kerosene heater, you need to
- Ensure that the kerosene heater is legal in your area.
- Make sure that the heater is in good working condition.
- Refrain from using fuel burning appliances when there is inadequate room ventilation. There needs to be room to let the fumes out.
- Keep kerosene stored in approved metal containers, outside of the house.
If you are using wood stoves and fireplaces, you need to
- Make sure that the fireplace or stove is installed properly.
- Wood stoves need to be of good quality, have a solid design and construction, and should be laboratory tested.
- The chimney needs to be inspected and cleaned annually.
- Always place a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace. This will prevent embers from flying out and burn something.
- Burn the stove twice a day for 15-30 minutes. This will reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
If you are using furnace heating, you need to
- Ensure your furnace is inspected to prove its safe working condition.
- Make sure that all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs work properly.
- Do not try to repair the furnace yourself, leave it to qualified specialists.
- Check the pipe seams and flue pipes. They should have proper supports and free of holes and cracks.
- Keep trash and combustible items far away from the heating system.
Finally, you need to be sure that you have a smoke alarm that works. Clean it on a monthly basis to check there are no hindrances.
Practice the evacuation plan with your family. Contact your local fire department if you have any questions on home fire safety.