As we add lights and decorations to make our homes festive for the holidays, we are sadly reminded of a tragedy that struck our area last December. Our home inspector friends at Pillar to Post recently outlined key steps to take to prevent your home and loved ones from fire. Please, take a moment to read and act as it is truly our hope that you all enjoy a safe and beautiful holiday season!
Last December a fire left a 54 unit condominium complex in Norwalk uninhabitable weeks before the holidays. Although residential fires continue to take their toll every day in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property, most conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. The recent fire in Norwalk was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home - and can save property and lives should disaster strike.
Re-check your indoor and outdoor holiday lights for damaged wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.
Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.
Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED types, on a dried-out tree.
Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire hazard.
Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney.
When using space heaters, keep them away from beds, curtains, papers - anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.
Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.
According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, 47% of reported home fires between 2011 and 2015 were kitchen fires. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don't wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.
Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visitready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
SERVING HOME BUYERS, HOME SELLERS, HOMEOWNERS &
REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS ACROSS FAIRFIELD COUNTY SINCE 1999
The Dave Leopold Team
10 Morehouse Lane
Norwalk, CT 06850