Handling an emergency situation quickly and correctly requires some practice beforehand. When a fire starts in your home, it can rapidly grow into a very dangerous situation, so knowing what to do is critical. Of course, the best option is to take steps now to reduce the chances of a fire starting in the first place. Here’s a checklist to guide you through checking your home for fire safety issues.

The kitchen can be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house:

1) Do adults supervise when food is being cooked on the stove?

2) Are the counters and stove tops uncluttered and clean?

3) Are the pot holders within a reachable distance of the stove?

4) When cooking, are the handles of the pots turned inwards so that nobody bumps into them?

5) Are curtains and other loose fabric away from the stove?

6) Do you keep kids free zone around the stove when adults are cooking?

7) Are the electrical appliances in the kitchen, such as toaster oven, blenders, food processors, coffee makers, and microwave plugged into different receptacle outlets?

Heating System:

1) When there is no one at home or when adults go to sleep are space heaters turned off?

2) Are space heaters placed at a distance of at least three feet away from everything such as furniture, people, and pets, especially material that can burn easily?

3) Is the fireplace equipped with a sturdy screen in order to catch the sparks?

4) Is the chimney cleaned and inspected every year?

5) Is the furnace cleaned and inspected every year?

6) Are propane tanks and other fuels stored outside the house?

Electrical gadgets and electric circuits are also dangerous if not handled properly. To check them, here is the check list:

1) Are the extension cords laid safely and not across the doorways, under the carpet, or in areas where people walk?

2) Are the electrical cords in excellent condition and not worn out, cracked or frayed?

3) Do you unplug electrical appliances, even things like lamps, after using them?

4) Do you have Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters in your electrical panel, and do you test them monthly?

Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be installed on every floor of the house.  Early notification of a fire and the ability to fight very small fires can save lives and property.

1) Are there smoke alarms installed on every level of the house, including the attic or basement, and also outside every sleeping area?

2) Is there a working smoke alarm in every bedroom/sleeping area?

3) Do you have Carbon Monoxide detectors on every level and outside of every sleeping area?

4) Are the smoke alarm batteries working in all of them?

5) Are the smoke alarms tested by pressing the test button, and are they less than 10 years old?

6) Is there more than one exit from the house?

7) Are all the home exits clear of furniture, clutter, and toys?

8) Can all of the doors/windows be opened from the inside without a key? This includes security bars if you have those installed.

9) Is there a home fire escape plan which also includes two exits? The two exits can consist of doors and windows? Here’s a great resource for planning your home escape plan. 

10) Has the family practiced your home fire drill in the past six months?

11) Does everyone know the designated outside safe place to meet after exiting the home?

12) Does everyone in the household know the fire department’s emergency phone number, which needs to be dialed from the neighbor’s phone since everyone has to evacuate the house in case of fire?

13) Do all of the adults and older children know where the utility shutoffs are (electric, gas, water) and how to operate them?

If all the questions of every checklist are answered as yes then the house and the family members are ready to face fire accidents. If the answer is yes to twenty to twenty-nine questions then few adjustments are needed to be made to ensure safety in case of fire emergencies. And if only ten to nineteen questions are answered as yes, then the family members need to double up and put in extra effort in order to be hit a fire safety home run. If less than ten questions are answered as yes, then the whole house needs to be revamped in order to make it a safe place to live in. Not only do the adults of the house need to get trained but also the children. If there is a pet in the house, it also needs to be included in the plan.

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