7 Tips on Effective Fire Risk Assessment and Prevention in Your Home

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fire risk assessmentsFire hazard is one of those things that most people assume isn’t relevant to them. The “it can’t happen to me” phenomenon may be a natural human impulse. However, to the extent that it stands in the way of proper fire precautions and general fire safety awareness, it itself becomes a hazard. HIR provides you this fire safety checklist, so that your family can benefit from reliable fire risk assessments and fire precautions.

7 Tips on Effective Fire Risk Assessment and Prevention in Your Home

1. Check your Heating Equipment
A main cause of house fires is improperly operated or functioning heating equipment. Be sure that furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable heaters are in top shape, well maintained and regularly checked.

2. Furnace, water heaters and boilers
These combustion-burning appliances accumulate build up of by-product material from their general use; they must be professionally cleaned and serviced annually. Failure to do so puts your home at risk.

3. Fireplace chimneys
Deposits called creosote build up in fireplace chimneys. These can fuel extremely hazardous chimney fires. In the autumn, before you start reusing the chimney, have it thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. It is wise to have an annual reminder on your calendar or if you have a computer reminder program. A few more words of wisdom can be added regarding chimneys. It is strongly advised that only hardwood logs should be burned in the fireplace. Soft woods, like pine or cedar, should be avoided for the threat they can pose by clogging up the chimney. Though it’s popular to burn paper, especially in getting a fire started, you should be aware that doing so, like burning small branches, can release embers that that create a danger of igniting flames on the roof of your home. Embers can be a problem inside the home, too, so ensure that you have a sturdy screen to cover over the fireplace.

4. Avoid water heater problems
The first rule about dealing with these appliances is to read very carefully the manufacturer’s instructions. Many fires could be avoided with greater care to proper installation and operation of water heaters. Take care not to place the heater in a situation where it may be knocked over. Also, ensure that it is kept away from flammables like clothing, paper, and furniture. Also, never mix or substitute fuels in a heater. They are designed for a single fuel and attempting to mix them can lead to a serious fire.

5. Always store your stuff safely and wisely
If it’s flammable, you shouldn’t be haphazard about its proper storage. In this area of home safety, haphazard leads to hazard. Files, clothes, or boxes, etc., that are kept too close to a heat source are in danger of becoming kindling. Especially, do no store these items, or anything, on top of or near a furnace or water heater. Flammable liquids, like gasoline or paint thinner, must be kept in proper containers, well distant from sources of heat. Included in this warning, too, are pilot lights. They’re easy to overlook as a potential source of heat and flame. Don’t make that mistake.

6. Be smoke detector smart
Contrary to popular misunderstanding, not all smoke detectors are created equal. The older ones have an ionic sensor. These had they’re day and no doubt saved a lot of lives. However, there are now on the market photoelectric sensors, which are more sensitive to slow, smoldering fires. The optimum safety, in fact, would be to have a smoke alarm system that incorporated both these kinds of technologies, to get the most safety possible. Something you might look for in buying a smoke detector is a reset or “silencer” button, for those occasions when nuisance false alarms – cooking garlic? – accidentally sets off the detector.

7. Don’t skimp or skip on the extinguishers
Okay, maybe a fire extinguisher isn’t the most beautiful thing to have in your house. Perhaps it can make it look a little institutional. I really don’t know why there hasn’t been a lot more thought put into manufacturing ones that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. Of course you don’t have to have it strapped to the wall, like a municipal building, but don’t have it so well hidden that it isn’t adequately accessible if needed. There are different types of extinguishers that are used for different kinds of fires. The kitchen is the most common source of household fires. It should be equipped with a Type B-C. This rating indicates that it is effective for fighting grease and electrical fires – obviously potential problem areas in a kitchen. The Type B-C extinguishers are also good in a garage or workshop. However, for the rest of the house you’ll want a combination unit rated Type A-B-C. It will extinguish fires fueled by wood, grease or electricity. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one extinguisher per floor of your home.

We hope these tips on fire risk assessment, and fire precautions, for you house serve as a valuable fire safety checklist that gives your family the fire safety awareness necessary to keep your home safe and secure.