Fire hazards are more common than you might think, especially in a big city like London. Sometimes, a spark at the wrong place and at the wrong time is enough to put your life in danger and do serious property damage.
In this guide, the Fantastic Handyman team explains how to make your home safe from fire.
Why Should You Have a Smoke Alarm
Getting right to the point – a smoke alarm is the best thing you can do to protect your house and your family.
Truth is, most fire victims do not die from the fire itself, but from suffocating from the smoke and deadly gases that fill up the enclosed space. Keep in mind that smoke spreads faster than heat and flames.
This is why a smoke alarm will react immediately by detecting the smoke first.
How to Make Your Home Safe from Fire
There are a few basic steps to follow in order to ensure fire safety for your home and family.
- Install a smoke alarm. If you don’t already have one, you should get a smoke alarm installation sooner rather than later. The most important place is in the kitchen as most fire hazards are caused by cooking mishaps. Don’t forget to change the batteries each year and replace the alarm every ten years.
- Maintain your electrical wiring. The second most common cause of fires is the lack of professional electrical wiring. And many mishaps happen between the walls, which is not an area you can easily observe. This is why it’s crucial to have a reliable electrician check your wiring at least once a year.
- Clean the oven. The number one fire hazard mishaps are in the kitchen, and the number one kitchen fire hazards start in the oven. An oven that is not well cleaned has layers of grease and oil all over its surface. These layers can easily get inflamed. This is why regular oven maintenance and cleaning may be the difference between life and death.
- Have an escape plan. Despite your precautions, it’s still possible to catch fire inside the house. For such situations, you should have an escape plan that all members of your family should know. Make sure to practice it at least a few times.
- Use common sense. Here are the most basic knowledge tips for fire prevention, such as do not leave lit candles unattended; do not leave a working oven unattended; do not throw cigarette buds in the garbage can; have up to date fire extinguishers handy; and never use water to put out a fire.
How to Install a Smoke Alarm
Installing a smoke alarm is easy if you have the right tools and if you’re not afraid to climb a ladder. Otherwise, you can always rely on professional to help with the handyman work.
- Get one for each room. It is recommended to have a smoke alarm in the kitchen, but you can always put another one in the living room, and in any room in general. If you have a room with a fireplace, it’s better not to put one there as the smoke will easily sound the alarm even if there’s no danger.
- Choose your location. The smoke detectors should be placed high on the wall or on the ceiling. Smoke rises high and gets distributed evenly, which helps the alarm to easily detect the threat.
- Measure. Use a pencil and a ruler to measure and mark the distance between the mounting holes.
- Drill. Use a standard drill to make small holes into the marks.
- Attach. Mount the detector.
- Change batteries and test regularly. Routine maintenance is very important to make sure the smoke alarm is in working order. Batteries need to be changed at least once a year, many people even change them once every six months. Testing involves just pushing the test button. You should hear a noise. If you don’t hear a noise or if the noise is very faint, you will have to change your batteries or even check for possible damage.
What to Do During a Fire Hazard
Once you are certain there is fire danger in your building, here are the steps you should go through.
- Follow the evacuation plan. Every building has one, including residential buildings. If this is happening in your home, proceed with your previously practiced escape plan.
- Pull the nearest fire alarm station. Sometimes, fire alarms aren’t able to detect danger soon enough. There can be many reasons for that – the fire alarm is not in the room, the batteries are dead, it’s damaged… In these cases, find a manually-activated fire station to inform both the fire department and everyone else in the building.
- Check doors and doorknobs for heat. If the building requires you to go through a few rooms to reach the exit, carefully check how hot the door (or doorknob) is. A flaming inferno may await you on the other side, and you don’t want to run into that.
- Stay low on the ground. If there is too much smoke in the air, it’s a good idea to move closer to the ground. Smoke rises high at the most upper part of the room, so staying low and covering your nose and mouth with a rag will keep you breathing for a while longer. Keep a hand on the wall to maintain a sense of direction.
- Call the fire department only once you’re away from danger.
Educate yourself even more on the dangers of fire and on the preventative measures you can take. Who knows, you might just be the one to save your friends and loved ones’ lives.