How to Stay Fire Safe While Sheltering in Place
COVID-19 has us all staying at home more than we probably ever have in the past. While this is great for helping flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19, it may have us all going a little loopy. Along with our newfound mental state, staying at home brings on other new challenges and worries. One of them is fire safety.
According to NFPA the majority of fires happen at home and the three main causes of fires in people’s homes are cooking, heating, and electrical.
On an ordinary day, nearly 2/3 of American homes cook at least one meal a day. Now that the nation is sheltering in place, this number is most likely higher. In order to protect your home and your family from cooking fires NFPA recommends that you:
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
- Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
- Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
- If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
For more information on cooking fires, check out our previous blog Cooking Safety.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of house fires in the US. Many parts of the country right now are still chilly so heaters are often running. While you are using your heater NFPA recommends that you:
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a 3 foot (1 meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer for fuel burning space heaters.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
Electrical and lighting equipment account for approximately 35,100 home fires per year. Now that more people than ever are home and using and charging their devices NFPA recommends that you:
- When charging smartphones and other digital devices, only use the charging cord that came with the device.
- Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
- Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
- Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
- Use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker that indicates the right number of watts.
We will get through this confusing and scary time. But, in order to make it through COVID-19 it is important to ensure that you and your family are protecting yourselves on all fronts.
-The IFS Team