Putting forth the effort to prevent a fire is a need for every homeowner, especially one that has just been through a house fire. A safety and protection checklist can make a person feel competent, at ease, and secure. Here are some guidelines on how to write a checklist for you and your family when the rebuilding of your home is complete...and how to save during and after the rebuilding. Fire Safety Checklist:
- Basement: Make sure the breaker wires are tight. Look out for erosion or decay on wire insulators. Water heater doors should be closed to prevent flame roll-out. Air-tight containers should be used for any oily rags and kept away from heat sources. Check your breaker panel to make sure there are no recalls or have not been recommended to be replaced. No trash should be stored in the basement. Keep areas around the oil burner, furnace, wood stove, or any type of equipment used to generate heat clear of debris. If you do not already have an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) it is highly advised that one be added. This is an electrical device made to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in the electrical wiring.
- Garage: There should be no pull-down stairs leading to the attic that link to the main house. Do not store gasoline near any sources of heat. Oily rags should be kept in air-tight containers and away from heat sources. Trash should not be kept in the garage. The door leading from the garage to the home should be solid and have a threshold to block fire from leading into the house. Things should be kept neat and organized, no junk accumulation.
- Laundry Room: The area behind the dryer should be kept lint free and no lint build-up inside the dryer. Lint is highly combustible. If the laundry room is not in the basement, the exhaust pipe is usually inserted in a 90-degree elbow that is cut into the drywall. This is a fire safety issue since this turn decreases the airflow which causes overheating of the exhaust environment. If the duct attached to the dryer is plastic it should be replaced with a metal duct.
- First Floor: Block gas appliances with sheet metal. Do not store cookies and other snacks above the stove. Make sure the smoke detectors are in working order. Furniture should have fire-resistant upholstery. Use the correct wattage light bulbs in fixtures. All light bulbs are covered, including hallways and closets. Never leave a fireplace uncovered. Make sure it has a screen, flue is clear, and there is no debris surrounding the area. Get the chimney cleaned once a year - before starting a fire. Sheet metal should block metal vent areas around the chimney. Do not overload extension cords or outlets or run electric cords under carpets or rugs. The kitchen should have fire extinguishers.
- Second Floor: Replace any mattresses that were manufactured before 1973. After this year manufacturers are required by law to make mattresses resistant to the ignition of cigarettes. There should be a smoke detector by each bedroom in the hallway. Portable heaters should be three feet away from beds, curtains, or any flammable materials. An escape ladder needs to be in each room. UL-approved electric blankets are the only type that should be used. A fire extinguisher should be somewhere on the floor and every family member should know where to locate it.
Take the time to inspect your home for possible safety hazards. Taking the time now could prevent another major catastrophe from happening to your home. As you rebuild your home after a fire, take all of the above into consideration first. These guidelines can help with the planning of your new home. While the plans are being drawn up, consider saving on all of the materials needed to rebuild, along with appliances, furniture, and anything else needed. You can save today and for the rest of your life. Start rebuilding a better home and future for you and your loved ones!
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