October is Fire Safety Month, when we focus on fire safety education both in the classroom and through local/national advertising. We always remind you to check your smoke detectors and don’t forget if you are on fire to stop, drop and roll. Beyond these common safety tips, there are many other important things you can do to make sure your home is safe and that you are prepared for whatever situation may arise.
- Clean out your dryer’s lint trap and exhaust line. In most cases you will find that the exhaust line is holding a ton of lint and is oftentimes the instigator of a dryer fire. Have you looked at the type of hose you have? Is it the corrugated type that has a lot of crevices for lint to build up in? If you have that type currently, you need to monitor and clean it regularly to keep it from being a fire hazard. Better yet, change it out for a smooth, fire rated line with good connections from the dryer to the exhaust vent on the exterior of your home.
- If you do need to use several extension cords at one outlet, consider a power strip with a GFCI switch. These are designed so if the strip becomes overloaded it will pop the breaker and shut off the electric supply, protecting you and your home from fire.
- Check your smoke detectors! Even if they are hard-wired, you should still test them to make sure they are working. Even without batteries the devices eventually stop working. Make sure you test both battery-operated and hard-wired detectors at least yearly.
- Make sure your exhaust vent is clean and in good working order. You want to be sure that there is no way for animals, especially mice, to get in there and build nests. In addition to being a fire hazard, animal nests can block the vent causing harmful gases to back up into the house. You can ensure you don’t get animals in the vent by covering it with a wire mesh cover that allows air flow but prevents critters from getting in.
- Check your extension cords. So many people use extension cords as a permanent power supply when they are supposed to be only temporary. Cords are commonly run through the walls, under rugs, or along walls. As these cords were not designed to be repeatedly walked on, they can become a fire hazard when the protective casing rubs off and exposes wires. Do not overload the outlets with multiple extension cords either, as this can cause a short or sparks and that can start a fire. If you need additional permanent power, you may want to consider having an electrician give you a proper power supply that is up to code and will not start a fire.
- Check your fire extinguishers. Make sure they are still good and can be counted on if a fire occurs. Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher should you need to? Do you know what PASS stands for? See the picture below for a refresher!