House fires are a real, unfortunate risk for all homeowners, and that's true no matter where you live.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are more than 1.3 million fires every year causing more than $23 billion in damage, and wildfires are more common than ever before. Protecting your home starts with an awareness of fire risks, and an understanding of how to address the most common trouble spots.
Mow Your Lawn and Keep Your Yard Free of Debris
Dried leaves, pine needles, and other common debris can provide kindling for a fire, so make yard maintenance a priority on your home improvement to-do list. Make sure to remove all debris from your lawn, and keep your lawn mowed to a height of 4 inches or less.
Trim Trees and Shrubs to Create a Buffer
Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to a healthy length, and make sure there is space between vegetation and your home. Make sure to remove any branches that hang over your roof, and keep vegetation away from decks. Add regular landscaping to your own home improvement tasks, or hire a pro to handle it for you.
Install and Maintain Fire Alarms
Your fire alarm is a lifeline if a fire occurs while you're sleeping, and can tip you off to signs of trouble before things get out of control no matter the hour. Install fire alarms/smoke detectors throughout the home, check batteries often, and test them regularly to make sure they're working correctly.
Frayed power cords and damaged electronics are common causes of house fires, so make sure that all of your electronics and appliances are well-maintained. Avoid overloading outlets with too many cords, always keep electronics away from water sources, and be careful when working on home improvement projects.
Store Flammable Items Safely
Many household cleaning products and cosmetics can provide fuel for a fire. Pick a safe place to store flammable items, away from heat sources. A cool, dark cabinet can work great as a designated place to store flammable items.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy
While fire prevention is always the goal, it's also important to be prepared to deal with a small fire before it becomes a big one. Keep fire extinguishers in key areas around the home, including the kitchen. Make sure that you know how to use your fire extinguisher safely, and check regularly to see that old extinguishers are still in good working order.
Develop and Practice a Fire Escape Plan
No matter how well you prepare and what steps you take to protect your home, there will always be at least some risk of a fire. That's why it's crucial to make sure that you have a fire escape plan in place, and that every member of the household knows the plan. Pick a safe route for fire escape, choose a meeting place, and practice your plan regularly to make sure all members of the household are prepared.
While there's no way to completely eliminate the risk of a fire, taking the necessary prevention steps goes a long way toward keeping your home safe. Stay on top of fire prevention, and always have a fire escape plan in place just in case.