Are You Fire Safety Smart?

“Burn, baby, burn” may have packed the dance floor during the days of disco, but those words are anything but a good time when it comes to your home and property.  

Since 1922, the National Fire Protection Agency has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week during the week of October 9 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. The devastation of that fire alone claimed the lives of 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres of land. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in America. Source 

The NFPA estimates that there are an average of 353,100 home structure fires in America each year, resulting in an estimated $7.2 billion in property damages. As an insurance company, it’s our job to be there for our policyholders on some of the worst days of their lives, but we believe it’s equally important to be there every day of the year to help prevent those bad days from ever happening in the first place. 

In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, we’ve pulled together tips to help you avoid a fire and prepare and protect your property. 

GENERAL 

Plan & practice.

Make a home fire escape plan with your family — and practice it. The NFPA has a great guide to get you started. 

Know the right tool for the job.

Store a fire extinguisher on every level of your home and make sure everyone in your family knows where they are located and how to use them. Look for extinguishers with an ABC rating, which are usable for all types of fires. Bonus tip: If you’re staying somewhere like an Airbnb, be sure to ask your host where the extinguishers are located. House fires are not limited to your house. 

Change your batteries when you change your clocks.

Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. Change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings in the spring and autumn. Check out the NFPA’s smoke alarm guide for great advice on everything from proper installation to testing. 

Embrace “out with the old.” 

Did you know that smoke alarms don’t last forever?  You should replace your smoke alarms entirely every ten years. Yep, even if they are still working. 

Light the night right.
Power outages are never fun, but did you know that they can quickly turn dangerous? The culprit: candles. Candles are responsible for an estimated 15,600 residential fires and 150 deaths each year, often when being used during a power outage. Keep a flashlight and batteries on hand for emergencies instead of using candles for emergency lighting. Be sure to test your flashlights and batteries regularly so they’re ready to glow when you need them. Source

HOME & COOKING SAFETY

Tune into what you’re doing & tune out the distractions. 

Imagine the scene: You’re deep into the latest Netflix docuseries when the vague aroma of something burning wafts into the room and you realize you’ve completely forgotten about the pot of food you left simmering on the stove. We’ve all been there. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires — and unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. One of the best ways to avoid a kitchen fire is to stay alert and tuned in to what you’re doing while cooking. Minimizing little distractions that cause you to lose track of time can have a huge impact. 

Don’t be a turkey when it comes to fire safety. 

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve. With houseguests, tight timelines, packed to-do lists and alcohol in the mix, it’s easier than ever to get distracted while holiday hosting. In addition, frying is a leading culprit behind cooking fires. If you’re craving a fried turkey this Thanksgiving, consider leaving it to the pros and taking a pass on the dangers of the DIY experience! Source

Create a safe space.

Keep outdoor grills, cookers and fryers at minimum of three feet away from your home, patio furniture, shrubbery and other combustibles. In addition to reducing fire risks, your vinyl siding will thank you. 

Don’t get burned by your heat source. 

Have your chimney, fireplace, wood stove and central furnace serviced regularly to ensure everything is in safe working condition before you start it up for the season.

COMMERCIAL 

Educate your employees. 

Practicing a fire evacuation plan with your employees increases the likelihood things will go smoothly in the event of an actual fire. Be sure to show everyone where fire alarms, extinguishers and exits are located. 

Light the way. 

In the event of a fire, smoke can quickly fill a space and obscure vision. Lighted exit signs and floor lights installed along major walkways make it easier to locate a safe path of escape, especially if you are forced to crawl to avoid smoke inhalation. 

Keep it clear.  

Clutter and debris can quickly become a workplace safety hazard, especially during a fire. A tidy office is a safe office. Ensure that walkways are kept clear at all times. This is especially critical around exits and any area that offers access to safety equipment like fire alarms and extinguishers. 

Purge your papers.

Lower your fire risk by purging old papers that are no longer needed. This is a simple way to reduce the amount of combustible material present in your workplace. 

Looking for more tips on fire safety? Visit the NFAP at nfpa.org.

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