Is Your Home Fire Safe?
It's officially fire season in California, which means it's time for you to ask yourself, "Is my home fire safe?" Nearly 4,000 Americans die every year in house fires and an additional 2,000 are severely injured.* Those statistics sound terrifying, but they are true. If you live in the state of California, I'm sure that you are already aware that fire season is upon us. As of Thursday morning (October 10, 2019), around 600,000 PG&E customers were left without electricity. PG&E, California's largest utility company, is taking drastic measures to prevent wildfires this year, they are rolling out blackouts, leaving customers powerless. While house fire deaths have dropped over the years (largely due to fire safety and awareness), it is still too large of a number for something so often preventable.
When it comes to keeping your house safe, it's not up to firefighters, it's up to you. Prevention begins inside and outside your house. Here are some tips you may want to consider, if you want to help protect your house from a fire:
Install & Check Your Smoke Alarms:
They say you should install smoke alarms on every level and in every room of your house. That means inside your bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.
Know Your Shutoffs:
Know where to find the shutoffs for all of your household utilities, including gas lines, circuit breakers, appliances and fuses. This is especially important if you live in a region of the world where earthquakes occur. If you can, try to keep shutoff directions right next to the values.
Check Your Heating Sources:
It doesn't matter what type of heating system you have in place, what matters is that you're cleaning and checking it annually. This includes your dryer!
Keep Fire Extinguishers In Key Areas:
Keep a few, easily accessible, fire extinguishers throughout your house. Key areas for fire safety are in the kitchen and next to the fireplace. Please make time to review the instructions so you know how to use the extinguisher properly. Here's an easy acronym that may help your remember: P = Pull A = Aim S = Squeeze S = Sweep
Make A Plan:
Make a fire escape plan and if you have other members in your household, make sure everyone knows the plan! If you would like to learn more about making a fire escape plan, please click here.
Clean Up Around Your House:
If you live in a dry climate this is especially important. Trees should be at least 10 feet away from any structure. If you can’t remove/move them, then prune the branches so they aren't close to your house. Tall trees should be pruned 6 to 10 feet from the ground. All wood decks should be fire resistant. It is highly recommended during fire season that you remove anything that may burn underneath or on top your deck, such as furniture, toys, dry leaves.
Scan Your Surroundings:
Neighboring homes and zones often overlap. If your property is fireproofed properly there is a chance that your neighbor’s is not, which means that you are still at risk. Homeowners, sometimes make mistakes when they try to remodel or rebuild their house. Notice what hazards may be around you and make note. Maybe talk to your neighbors. Here is an interactive guide by the LA Times that may help.
Keep in mind that when reading and thinking about this topic, that awareness is not enough. That's why it's so important to plan, prepare and prevent. Talk to your loved ones and neighbors. Keeping your homes and community safe year-round!