Guest Post By Bill Grande, Senior Director of Product Management, Marketing at Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc.
With Fire Prevention Week taking place October 9-15, 2016, it’s important now more than ever to advise home owners and tenants in your community to evaluate their properties for fire safety. This is especially crucial with the changing seasons bringing not only colder weather, but an increased risk of home-based fires due to cooking and light decorations over the holidays, heating a residence and so forth. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) September 2015 Structure Fires Report, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 357,000 home fires per year between 2009-2013, causing 2,470 deaths and $6.9 billion in damage. The U.S. Fire Administration website reports that home electrical fires account for 51,000 fires each year, resulting in nearly 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries and 1.3 billion in property damage.
While it’s important to advise communities and home owners on the NFPA’s recommended standards of testing smoke alarms regularly and replacing them every 10 years, teaching these individuals the importance of monitoring other equipment that can cause fires in a home is equally important. The NFPA has identified the three leading causes of accidental home fires as being 1) cooking equipment, 2) heating equipment and 3) electrical distribution systems.
With that said, below are several tips and safety steps you can share with tenants and homeowners that can be followed to protect families and residences from fires before they happen:
Don’t Let the Turkey Burn! - Cooking Safety: As the holidays come around, so do the extra hotplates, slow cookers and cooking equipment. In making your next meal, double-check that no flammable materials, such as dish towels, pot holders or food containers, are near open flames or hot stove tops. Also make sure that all cooking equipment, such as pots and pans, are removed from the oven before preheating. Don’t forget to teach children the dangers of fires in the kitchen too, and always keep cooking equipment out of reach.
Keep Your Eyes, Ears and Nose Alert - Electrical Safety: Throughout an apartment or home, occupants should be able to detect warning signs of an electrical failure or malfunction. This includes discolored or warm outlets, flickering or dimming of lights, frequent issues with blowing fuses or smelling a burning or rubbery odor from appliances. Also, it’s important that extension cords are used for temporary needs only; never run cords under rugs or let them get pinched under furniture.
Preventative Measures – Using Safety Devices: In the case that a fire does occur, devices and equipment such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are important to have on-hand to prevent further damage or injury. However, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) an estimated 50% of electrical fires that occur every year could be prevented with the installation of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs). AFCIs, like Leviton’s SmartlockPro® AFCI Outlet, detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults. An arc fault creates a discharge of electricity between conductors that can translate into heat and molten particles, potentially triggering an electrical fire. An AFCI outlet can detect an arc fault and will shut off power to help prevent ignition of a fire.
In your next Association meeting or email update, stress the importance of fire safety... It will not only allow you as a manager to demonstrate the significance of keeping all properties up to code and efficient, but it will also give homeowners and tenants the opportunity to reassess what they can do to keep their families safe, happy and healthy.
For more information about fire safety and prevention, please visit www.Leviton.com/HomeSafety.
*Image credit: István Asztalos via pixabay