Regardless of where in the country you live, fire is always a potential danger to your home, property and loved ones. According to the American Red Cross, 60 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. On average, 39 people die each year in fires in this country.
"Fire is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a family and a home," says Eric Corbett, president and owner of Larry & Sons. "If a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape. The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove potential fire hazards."
Corbett offers tips to help keep your family and your home safe:
Develop a fire escape plan with your family. Make sure everyone knows how to get out and where to meet. Practice the plan at least twice a year. If a fire occurs in your home, get out and stay out. Teach everyone to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them once a month, and if they're not working, change the batteries. Replace them every 10 years.
Keep flammable items at least three feet clear of anything that produces heat, such as a space heater or a fireplace.
Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home. If it sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or near an open window or door.
Cook safely, and teach your kids to do the same. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling. If you leave the kitchen, even for a moment, turn off the stove. Stay home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling. Check on it regularly and use a timer to remind you. And keep anything that can catch fire, such as pot holders or towels, away from the stove.
Use caution with portable fire extinguishers. Keep one in the kitchen, but use it only if you have been trained by the fire department and if the fire is confined to a small area, the room is not filled with smoke, everyone has exited the building, and the fire department has been called.