Pre­vent­ing Home Fires is the Best Way to Sur­vive Them

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - HOME - Judie Docs, Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer North Coast Build­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (NCBIA) www. CSP, MCSP, CGP, CMP, MIRM Judie Docs

Ev­ery year, home fires claim the lives of close to 3,000 Amer­i­cans and cause around $6 bil­lion in dam­age. While fire deaths in the home are drop­ping -- largely due to fire safety aware­ness and home build­ing codes and tech­niques – far too many peo­ple in the United States die each year of some­thing that is of­ten pre­ventable. When it comes to house­hold fires, the best way to sur­vive one is to sim­ply avoid hav­ing a fire start in your home. Prac­tice dili­gence when work­ing with or around the most com­mon fire haz­ards in a home.


Cook­ing leads to more house fires than any other sin­gle source. By far the great­est fac­tor in kitchen fires is unat­tended cook­ing. Never leave the kitchen while cook­ing, es­pe­cially when us­ing oil or high tem­per­a­tures. And if oil does ever catch fire in a kitchen, never, ever use wa­ter to at­tempt to put it out. This will spread the fire. Calmly turn off the heat source or re­move the pan from the heat, at­tempt to smother the flames with a me­tal lid or flour, or use a fire ex­tin­guisher if all else fails.

Heat­ing equip­ment.

Have chim­neys/fire­places cleaned and in­spected once a year. Never set clothes or shoes on a ra­di­a­tor or space heater to dry. Never leave space heaters on overnight or when you leave the home and only use space heaters that shut off au­to­mat­i­cally when tipped over.


Smok­ing is the num­ber one cause of home fire deaths and also has a very sim­ple so­lu­tion: never smoke in­doors. The vast ma­jor­ity of smok­ing fires start in a be­d­room, so don’t smoke in your bed.


Over­loaded cir­cuits and mis­use of ex­ten­sion cords, multi-out­let con­vert­ers and power are the lead­ing cause of home elec­tri­cal fires. Never use ex­ten­sion cords, power strips or multi-out­let con­vert­ers for ap­pli­ances; all ap­pli­ances should be plugged di­rectly into a wall out­let. Use only ap­pro­pri­ate bulbs in light­ing fix­tures; higher wattage light bulbs

may cause over­heat­ing. Over­re­liance on ex­ten­sion cords, power strips or multi-out­let con­vert­ers is a sign that more wall out­lets may need to be in­stalled in a room or home.


One-third of can­dle fires start in the be­d­room; make sure that can­dles are on a sta­ble sur­face and won’t be knocked over. Be very alert dur­ing the hol­i­days: Can­dles + wrap­ping pa­per + dried Christ­mas trees = a fire wait­ing to hap­pen.

Flammable liq­uids.

Va­pors can ig­nite from high tem­per­a­tures or small sparks from static elec­tric­ity or other sources. Don’t store flam­ma­bles like gaso­line and cer­tain clean­ing agents near a heat­ing source. They should be kept out­side the home in a cool, ven­ti­lated area.

Clothes dry­ers.

Clean the lint fil­ter af­ter ev­ery load. Also clean any lint from around the drum, and around the hous­ing for the lint fil­ter. At least once per year check the air ex­haust pipe to the ex­te­rior of the home and en­sure there is no block­age.

Preven­tion is the best way to avoid fires. But it would be ir­re­spon­si­ble to not have de­fenses in place in the event of a fire. Al­ways re­mem­ber:

Smoke de­tec­tors.

In­stall smoke alarms on ev­ery level of your home, in­side bed­rooms and out­side sleep­ing ar­eas. Test the bat­ter­ies each month.

Fire emer­gency plan.

Talk with all fam­ily mem­bers about a fire es­cape plan and prac­tice the plan twice a year. The plan may in­clude es­cape lad­ders if the home is two sto­ries or more.

Fire Ex­tin­guish­ers.

Hav­ing fire ex­tin­guish­ers in your home and know­ing how to use them is a cru­cial part of your home’s emer­gency plan. They should be used only for fires that are very small and con­tained. Al­ways keep an ex­tin­guisher near the kitchen and, prefer­ably, on ev­ery level of the home.

Above all else, al­ways re­mem­ber that if a fire oc­curs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back in­side for any­thing.

The North Coast Build­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion is your lo­cal not-for-profit trade as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing mem­ber com­pa­nies in­volved in all as­pects of home build­ing, re­mod­el­ing, and other as­pects of ser­vices avail­able to help you in the fu­ture. So, you can see it is for your pro­tec­tion that you use a NCBIA mem­ber. If you are un­sure that your con­trac­tor is a mem­ber of the NCBIA or you are look­ing for a list of NCBIA mem­bers, you can visit our NEWLY RE­MOD­ELED web­site at or call 440-934-1090. We also have a job post­ing board (un­der the About Us tab). Like us or bet­ter yet share us on Face­book!

Home­own­er­ship is truly a corner­stone of the Amer­i­can way of life. North Coast Build­ing In­dus­try – Come Build with Us!

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