Is your home truly safe? Many homeowners are unaware of serious risks that could result in a home fire. To ensure you keep your home and family safe, at the Park City Fire District we advise every homeowner (or renter) to go on a “home hazard hunt” at least once a year – your hunt could reveal issues that can be resolved before a disaster occurs.
How to do a Home Hazard Hunt
Whether you get the family involved, or do the hunt yourself, checking the following home systems yearly is a must. Follow this outline, and if any hazard is found, take immediate action to resolve it:
- Electrical hazards
- Chemical hazards
- Be prepared
- Fire hazards
- Anchoring home items
- Know your utility shut-off systems
Check all plugs and cords. If you see any cords or plugs that appear damaged, replace them at once. An electrical short can lead to a home fire. Remove any electrical cords placed under carpets, over metal items such as nails or screws, or near water pipes, heaters, or heating vents. Older homes may not have enough outlets, but stringing together surge protectors is dangerous and can overload your electrical system, leading to disaster. Only one plug per outlet is safe. Talk to an electrician about how to safely increase the number of outlets in your home. Do you have older appliances that tend to spark, smoke, or overheat? Replace them – they put your family at risk of a home fire.
Our homes often have various chemicals, including cleaning products, stored unsafely. Ensure flammable liquids are stored separately outside your home, and only in approved containers. Oily rags used for automotive or cleaning are a fire risk and should be kept in a covered metal container. Rather than keeping many types of chemical substances in the home, keep your supply at a low limit and discard any older products. Always keep cleaning products such as chlorine bleach or ammonia separate. If these products combine, a dangerous gas is produced. It is a given that all toxic cleaning products or chemicals must be kept far out of the reach of young children.
Every level of your home must be protected by a smoke alarm. Place alarms within every bedroom, in each hallway, and on every level of the home. Test your alarms monthly, and replace batteries each year. Ensure your fire extinguishers are charged and ready to go should you need them. If you don’t know how to use the extinguisher, get some training as a priority.
You can reduce the risk of a home fire by ensuring your chimneys are cleaned yearly. If you use portable heaters, they must be placed in a safe area where they cannot be kicked or tripped over. Only use newer model heaters that offer all the required safety features and have the UL label. Place on a level surface, safe from children, pets, and others. Clear out the clutter in your home, such as papers, yard clippings and waste, rags, or other items.
Protect against various potential risks by anchoring large items to the wall. Look around your bedrooms and ensure no heavy objects are placed above beds, such as light fixtures, fans, or decorative items. It is also important to ensure that any gas lines into appliances are flexible and able to withstand the shake of earthquakes without breakage.
You may need to shut off gas in an emergency, and should be fully aware of how to do so. Get any gas heating system checked yearly for leaks, and ask your utility provider to show you exactly how to shut off gas in an emergency.
At the Park City Fire District, we want to help our neighbors stay safe. Take advantage of these tips to increase the level of safety in your home.