Home hazards room by room

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For the next few weeks I will be detailing important aspects of fire protection room by room. My first are the kitchen and living room. Next week I will write about bathroom and bedroom protection.


A fire safe kitchen is easy to prepare, as long as you know the right ingredients.

• Limit distractions such as a computer, TV or phone.

• Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher in a place where it is easy to access.

• Be sure you are properly trained to use your fire extinguisher.

• Never leave anything on the stove or under the broiler unattended.

• Keep any flammables such as dishtowels and plastic/paper food packaging well away from the stove.

• Maintain a three-foot kid-free and pet-free zone around the stove.

• Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing while you are cooking.

• Pay close attention while frying or grilling.

• Ensure oven mitts or potholders are dry. If wet, they won’t protect you from the heat.

• Smother oven or microwave fires by turning off the appliance and keeping the door closed.

• Never attempt to fight a fire that spreads quickly or won’t go out. Close the door, leave your house and call the fire department from outside.

Living Room

Living by these fire smart reminders makes your living room a safer room.

• Make sure the fireplace flue damper opens and closes fully.

• Hire a professional to clean the chimney and inspect the firebox once per year.

• Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and replace batteries every six months.

• Schedule a yearly fireplace inspection and cleaning by a certified company to make sure no debris is blocking the chimney.

• Space heaters aren’t designed to operate for long periods. Always turn them off when you leave the room.

• Power strips are great at protect against power surges, but when overloaded, power strips can cause electrical fires.

• If a family member has hearing difficulties, install a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with strobe features.

• Open the flue or damper before starting a fire in your fireplace, every time.

• Keep all flammables at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.

• Place a sturdy fireplace screen in front of the fireplace.

• Keep candles and lamps at least one foot away from your curtains.

• Have an electrician inspect and tighten any loose electrical connections at least once a year.

• Use safety caps to cover all unused electrical outlets.

• Use large, deep ashtrays. Never leave a burning cigarette unattended.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind. Take the time to look in these rooms to make sure your home is safe.

Michael Heath is president of the St. John Professional Firefighters Association.