Tips for fire prevention month
BY World Special Publications
Monday, October 08, 2012
October is National Fire Prevention Month — the perfect time to make sure your home is well prepped in case of emergency.
The Family Handyman unveils six tips to ensure the only flames in your home this fall season remain solely in areas like your oven, heater or fireplace.
1. Know your ABC’s
Fire extinguishers are rated A, B or C. Class A extinguishers are designed for fires involving wood, paper or cloth. Class B extinguishers are for fires from grease, gasoline, chemical solvents and other oils. Class C extinguishers address fires stemming from electrical equipment. Although ABC-rated extinguishers are a bit more expensive, invest in these multipurpose models and keep one in every room of your house near an exit.
2. Ring the alarm<p />
Check your smoke detectors once a month by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds or holding the smoking wick of a just-lit candle near it. If the alarm doesn’t sound in 30 seconds, it’s time to replace the battery. Also, remember to change the battery annually (doing it on your birthday is a smart way to remember) and vacuum the detector’s interior twice a year.
3. Don’t overextend yourself
Extension cords are meant to be temporary and can cause dangerous circuit overloads, so always plug devices into permanent wall outlets whenever possible. This is especially true for space heaters — which are quite popular during these colder months — since most extension cords don’t have sufficient capacity for them.
4. Behind closed doors
During a fire, a closed door can mean the difference between life and death. Make it a habit to sleep with your door closed, so fires that start in another room will be hindered from getting to you before you awake. You can also install self-closing hinges or automatic door closers on service entrances like the one between your home and garage.
5. Avoid under-the-radar risks
In addition to obviously dangerous items like flammable chemicals, don’t keep piles of newspapers or oily cloths indoors. If they become too warm, they may catch fire through spontaneous combustion.
6. Save lives with a stick of incense
A gas-powered furnace or water heater needs air to properly exhaust, and a house that’s too airtight prevents it from getting the amount it requires. Back drafting is a dangerous condition in which flue gases are sucked down the furnace or chimney, allowing deadly carbon monoxide to linger indoors. To test things out:
• Close all windows, doors and fireplace damper while turning on all household exhaust fans.
• Power up the furnace, water heater and any other vented gas appliances.
• Stand by for 10 minutes to allow drafts to stabilize, and then hold an incense stick below the air intake of your furnace on the burner draft hood.
• If the smoke is pulled up into the hood, you’ve got enough fresh air for safe operation. If the smoke blows away from the hood, back drafting is in effect. Call your utility company immediately.
A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. hartphotography/Shutterstock