(Sept. 2012) – While fires can cause significant damage and even death, they are also preventable. Here are some quick and easy tips to keep your family safer at home:
Install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home, and test it once a month according to the manufacturer's instructions. Almost one-third of all smoke detectors in homes are believed to be missing batteries or are otherwise not functional.
When using burners, roll up loose-fitting sleeves and turn cookware handles inward to avoid spilling and igniting the contents. Don't leave burners unattended and never leave the room when using a fryer. If a grease fire ignites, don't try to put it out with water. Use your fire extinguisher, or if the fire is in a pot or pan, turn off the heat and carefully put a lid over the top.
If you have a wood stove, make sure it meets today's safety standards and is properly installed on a non-combustible base that can withstand intense heat. Keep heating devices (including a stovepipe) at least 36 inches from walls and furniture. Have chimneys on wood stoves and fireplaces cleaned and inspected yearly. Be sure to remove the ashes using a metal container; never use a cardboard box or plastic pail.
Keep cords far from hot surfaces and areas with open water or faucets, and unplug warm appliances like toasters and irons when done. Don't overload extension cords or plug too many items into the same electrical circuit, especially if your home's wiring is old.
Smoking in bed causes many home fire deaths. In a word, don't. It's also wise to designate couches or easy chairs as "no smoking areas." These places of comfort can lull people to sleep while holding lighted cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam.