Summer leaves ample room for accidents when it comes to fire. While we’re off enjoying the weather, simple things can go wrong resulting in a fire that spreads like, well, wildfire. Keep a fire safety plan in play all year and go over it with children every season to ensure they know what to do should disaster strike. Taking the proper precautions to fireproof your home for summer will help you avoid an accident and can save lives.
Simple Ways to Fireproof Your Home Inside
Keep up with fireproofing through the summer by implementing these simple tools for the season. When in doubt, get the opinion of an expert (as in the case of overloaded wires). While it may cost you for a home visit, you can be sure your family is safe and any faulty hazards are taken care of immediately. This can wind up saving your life and a lot of money in home insurance.
- Get rid of excess stuff. If you never get around to spring cleaning, make sure your home is rid of any excess once summer rolls around. The more stuff you have, the more quickly even the smallest fire can spread. This doesn’t mean you get rid of everything you aren’t using, but be sensible in deciding what actually gets use in your home. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit or are seldom worn and move out any toys your children no longer play with. Sort items into those that should be discarded and those which are still in wearable or usable condition, which can be donated to a local charity or thrift shop. If you make this a project for the family, it can go by relatively quickly and usually needs a single Saturday or Sunday devoted to the job.
- Swap your candles for infused bamboo. Summer means you’re busy keeping up with extra activities and simply enjoying the season. Instead of worrying about candles, invest in a set of bamboo sticks and essential oils. These are available at high end shops and eco-friendly boutiques and run about $30, but last for months. Fill a bottle with the oils provided and stick a few bamboo sticks inside. The bamboo sticks become infused with the oils’ scent and releases a beautiful aroma into the air. For best results, flip the bamboo sticks every few hours for the most potent scent. This removes the work and hazard of having candles burning during warm weather, but still gives you a gorgeous smell to come home to.
- Double check your smoke alarms. Each home should have a smoke alarm that is working at all times. Smoke alarms should be checked twice a year and replaced if there’s any faulty wiring or a glitch that prevents the alarm from going off at the appropriate time. Prior to summer, check your smoke alarm and make sure it is working. Also make sure any children in the home recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and are aware of what to do should they hear it go off. Practicing a fire alarm drill similar to those done in school is a smart way to give kids a dry run of what should occur if the fire alarm goes off
- Make sure there are no overloaded wires. A primary sign that you are overloading wires is your continuously blow a fuse when turning on a particular light or using a certain electrical outlet. An electrician should be called immediately to avoid a fire hazard. Do not use a light bulb with higher wattage than what’s designated on the lighting fixture. If you plan on decorating your patio with outdoor lights, be sure you are using an outdoor outlet. Attempting to plug your outdoor lighting to an indoor outlet will often blow a fuse because the indoor outlet is not equipped to handle such power. Remember that a fuse is an electrical safety valve that exists for a reason.
Simple Ways to Fireproof Your Home Outside
Once you’re done taking care of fireproofing your home on the inside, don’t forget about the outsize fire hazards that can exist during the summer. The season means a lot of time is spent outdoors with the family, so take the proper precautions to ensure everyone’s safety for summer.
- Move the recycling outside. Recycle bins should be outside during the summer. Because the air is so warm during the summer months, a fire can rapidly take off and multiply quickly once it hits the area where recycle bins are stored. Designate an area outside where all of your recycle bins can be stored. If you live in an area where recycling must be dropped off at a local center, be sure you do this on a weekly basis or any time recycling bins are filled. Having newspaper and magazines in excess amounts can also lead to a fire.
- Fireproof your patio furniture. The patio furniture is usually near a barbecue pit, meaning charcoal and fire are nearby. Fireproof your patio furniture by having a fireproof chemical applied. This will cost a few hundred dollars, but can severely reduce an outdoor fire from going out of control. When purchasing new patio furniture, inquire with the store or manufacturer before buying to be sure the furniture has been treated to become fire retardant.
- Buy a fire extinguisher to keep outside. Summer puts us outside on the patio or at the pool more often than any other season. Having a fire extinguisher outdoors is a great idea, especially if your family is known to cook outdoors during the summer. A fire extinguisher is more reliable than a water hose and is also easier to handle and access during an emergency. Be sure that everyone who lives at the house is aware of where the outdoor fire extinguisher is and how to use it.
- Barbecue away from shrubs or trees. If you are barbecuing, be sure the pit is in an open area away from shrubs or trees, which can catch fire quickly should something go awry. When we barbecue, we are often entertaining family or friends. This distraction can lead to a fire hazard if you do not keep close watch on the barbecue as the fire burns. Keep the barbecue pit on a flat surface in an open area. Be sure your outdoor fire extinguisher is close to your barbecue pit.
- Dispose of coals properly. If you are barbecuing with coal, be sure you know how to properly dispose of them. Ideally, coals should be left to cool down on their own, overnight if possible. If you are in a hurry, you can pour water or sand over already cool coal to turn out any remaining fire. Once this is done, dispose of coals with your normal garbage. Always make sure your barbecue pit is free from any coal, which can pose a serious hazard when you work with it the next time.
- Never leave outdoor candles unattended. With all of the time we spend outdoors in the summer, we’re prone to mosquitos which means we usually reach for a citronella candle. These candles can be purchased in large pails, so they sit on a table or on the floor of a patio and burn inward, creating a “valley” that makes it safer than a pillar-style candle. Still, all outdoor candles should be within view at all times. Never leave children playing around a candle and be sure to blow the candle out after festivities settle down and you are back inside. Also refrain from burning the candle when it is very hot out and there are no mosquitos in sight.
- Clean out dryer lint. This sounds like a simple tactic, but if you live with children and teenagers who do their own laundry, you know the lint trap can get out of control quickly. If your dryer is in the garage, be sure the lint trap is cleaned every few days, or more often if your family does a lot of laundry. Ideally, aim for cleaning the lint trap every 4-6 loads of clothing. Discard of lint by bringing it inside and putting it in the trash. Never let lint accumulate in an outdoor area, as a garage can often store a water heater and dryer in fairly close proximity.
- Keep a close eye on fireworks activity. If you live in area where fireworks are permitted, you know the neighborhood is rampant with children wielding Roman candles, sparklers and the like come Fourth of July. Never leave children and teenagers unattended when they are playing with fireworks. Never light fireworks near dry grass or indoors and refrain from poking or prodding a firework if you light it and it doesn’t go off.