Healthy Living

How to protect your home and your family from a fire

'We save more lives through prevention than we ever do in a firetruck'

(Adobe stock)



Fire safety, Red fire extinguisher on wall, blur hotel room background, text label. 3d illustration
(Adobe stock) Fire safety, Red fire extinguisher on wall, blur hotel room background, text label. 3d illustration

Marion Fire Chief Deb Krebill has tons of tips to help prevent home fires. “I could talk about this all day,” she said. “The best way to protect lives and property is to never have a fire.”

Cooking mishaps — like leaving something on the stove or in the oven unattended — are one of the most common causes of house fires, Krebill said.

“If you must leave the room, carry your spatula around or put a towel over your shoulder to remind yourself,” she said.

When it comes to your electronics, Krebill has easy-tofollow advice: “When your phone says 100 percent, unplug it.”

She also recommends charging phones, laptops and other devices on hard surfaces rather than on fabrics or any flammable material. Never overload

circuits, and if you must use a power strip, use one with a surge protector.

Keep your grill 10 feet away from the house. Keep any sort of recreational fire, like a bonfire or firepit, 25 feet away.

Anything flammable — like a basket of laundry — should be kept at least 3 feet away from your furnace and water heater.

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Neal Boeckmann, with the Robins Fire Department, said it’s best to avoid leaving certain appliances on when you leave the house.

“Dryers and dishwashers with heating elements shouldn’t be left on,” he said. “Even washing machines have big electric motors that could overheat.”

Also, he said, clean your clothes dryer and chimney vents at least once each year.

Dryer vents can get clogged with lint. Chimney vents can be a favorite place for animals to make nests — a potential fire hazard and something he sees at homes when he’s driving around.

“It’s common this time of year when birds are looking for a warm spot,” he said.

If you’re trying to decide how many fire extinguishers to put in your house, “the more, the merrier,” Boeckmann said.

Most importantly, put the fire extinguishers in visible, accessible places.

“If you have one in the basement, for example, don’t put it behind the furnace,” he said.

If you aren’t sure how to use an extinguisher, many fire departments offer training, he said.

Firefighters also are always happy to discuss fire prevention.

“If you’re unsure about something, like whether your grill is too close to your house,

we’re available to answer questions,” he said.

Both Krebill and Boeckmann stressed the importance of having working smoke detectors and keeping bedroom doors shut at night, both of which

are crucial if a fire were to break out in your home.

“People think they’ll wake up if there’s a fire, but the gases put people into a deeper sleep,” Krebill said.

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Keeping doors shut helps slow the spread of fires because it reduces the amount of oxygen available and will give you more time to get out.

If you discover a fire in your home, “get out and stay out,” Boeckmann said.

If there’s smoke in your path, crawl to an exit. “The temperature near the floor will be lower and the air will be less toxic,” Krebill said.

Fire drills are the best way to prepare your family in case of an emergency.

“Don’t make kids afraid of fire detectors — show them what it sounds like during the drill,” Krebill said.

If they know what the sound is and what they need to do, they’ll be calmer if a real fire occurs.

She said families should agree on a meeting place outdoors.

“If you don’t have one, your kids may go to a different location, and I’ll send my firefighters into danger to look for them,” Krebill said.

In the event of a house fire, firefighters need to access the breaker box.

“Clutter is problematic for firefighters,” Boeckmann said. “Look in your basement — would we be able to get to the breaker box easily?”

By following simple, preventive steps and practicing fire drills, you can greatly improve the safety of your home and family.

“We save more lives through prevention than we ever do in a firetruck,” Krebill said

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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