Each year, Americans lose billions of dollars’ worth of property to housefires. It’s a devastating thought: everything you own – including things that can’t be replaced – gone in a few minutes.
That’s to say nothing of the human cost. Thousands of people are killed or are injured each year in housefires. Perhaps the worst part is that so many of these fires could have been prevented with the installation of a fire alarm system, or by taking simple home fire safety measures.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the importance of having a fire alarm system, some of the most common reasons housefires start, along with some steps you can take to fireproof your home.
Why is a fire alarm system important?
Having a fire alarm system might seem extravagant, the type of thing you’d see in a large office complex, not a two story home.
But we’d argue it’s worth the investment. Here’s why:
1. They can save your life
This is perhaps the most important reason to install a fire alarm system at home: you’ll keep you and your family safe.
With features such as smoke and heat detectors, sirens, bells and flashing lights, these systems can alert you when a fire breaks out and give everyone inside a chance to get outside quickly and safely.
2. Emergency crews can get there faster
While an alarm can’t put out fires, it can alert emergency responders. The faster they get to your home, the faster they can put out the fire and the less damage you’ll have to your property.
3. Codes and insurance
Many insurers offer discounts to homeowners who install a fire alarm system. (This point might be more important for business owners, as many insurance companies require business fire alarm systems before extending coverage).
And if you’re moving into a new house, having a fire alarm system will help you pass inspection and comply with local building codes.
It’s also crucial that you have your fire alarm system inspected on a routine basis. The obvious reason is that you need to know that your system works. In addition, your insurance company can reject your fire damage claim if you aren’t able to show your system was inspected each year.
What are the most common causes of housefires?
Installing a fire alarm system can help protect your family and help keep your property safe. But there are ways you can prevent fires altogether, particularly when you’re aware of the most common causes.
1. Cooking equipment
We put this in the first spot because it’s the number one cause of house fires, usually the result of food left unattended on the stove.
Keep an eye on what you’re cooking – or get someone else to do it. If a fire does break out, be careful. A bulk of cooking fire injuries involve people trying to fight the fire themselves.
The leading cause of fatal housefires, with a majority of the deaths resulting from furniture, bedding or mattresses catching fire. Cigarette butts can remain lit for a long time, so try to make smoking an outdoor-only activity.
3. Heating equipment
Another major contributor to the number of home fires, heating equipment accounts for 20 percent of all fatal fires. These fires can be avoided by paying attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on things like space heaters and wood stoves.
4. Intentional fires
A not-insignificant number of house fires were set intentionally, according to FBI statistics, and many of these fires were caused by people under 18. This underlines the importance of keeping matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Other common fire hazards include:
- Candles – Just like food on the stove, candles should never be left unattended. Blow them out when you leave the room and keep them away from materials like books or tissue boxes.
- Cookouts – When you fire up your grill, make sure it’s far away from any structures, plants or tablecloths, and make sure you keep it clean and well-maintained.
- Flammable liquids – Keep things like gasoline or kerosene away from heat sources.
In our next section, we’ll look at some other home fire safety tips.
10 Ways to Fireproof Your Home
Fireproofing your home doesn’t have to become a weeks-long project. It’s usually the matter of getting into the habit of carrying out these fire prevention measures.
1. Declutter your house
Is there a big stack of old magazines in your garage? A pile of clothing that you no longer wear and are considering giving away? Now is the time to clear them out. The more things you’re storing, the easier time a fire will have spreading.
2. Clean your gutters
A fire breaks out a few blocks away. An ember from that fire floats through the air, makes its way to your property and lands inside the dry leaves inside your rain gutter.
Keep this scenario from happening by cleaning your rain gutters and having your chimney swept and inspected at least annually to prevent soot built-up.
3. Keep an eye on the power lines
If you have power lines running near or above your home, make sure they won’t be knocked down by falling trees or tree branches. Trees need to be trimmed to keep branches from getting tangled in power lines. Most utility companies can provide this service if you ask.
4. Lamps, candles and heaters
Lightbulbs generate enough heat to set flammable materials ablaze. Keep drapes and bed sheets far away from your lamps. Be careful when using candles, which can become a fire hazard if knocked over. If you like the smell scented candles offer but are worried about home fire safety, consider using an oil diffuser instead.
Finally, be careful using space heaters, particularly older models. Keep them away from flammable materials, and never position them in a place where your kids or pets might knock them over.
5. Empty your lint trap
Lint is highly flammable, so be sure to clean out your dryer’s lint trap every time you do laundry. At the very least, the lint trap should be cleared after every 4-6 loads of wash.
6. Electrical issues
If you’re constantly tripping the circuit breaker in your home, you might be overloading an outlet, or have an electrical issue. See if drawing less power fixes the problem. If not, consult an electrician.
7. Have an escape plan
Make sure you and your loved ones have an escape route mapped out (this should be part of any home security plan, not just for fires). Have a place outside where you can all meet in an emergency.
8. Make sure your alarms are working
Even if you don’t install a fire alarm system, you should still have smoke alarms in each bedroom, as well as one on each floor of your home. (Place them high on the wall, where smoke can rise to them.) These alarms should be checked twice each year.
You should keep at least one fire extinguisher at home, ideally in the kitchen, where many housefires start. Make everyone who is old enough to work the extinguisher knows how to use it.
Turn to Holicong Security for home fire safety
If you’re seeking ways to protect your home and family against fires, turn to Holicong Security. Our high-quality fire detection solutions include smoke and fire alarms, sprinkler systems and water flow valves. Contact us today, and we’ll be in touch to help you keep your home secure.