A fire in your home can be scary! There are plenty of things you can do to stop a fire before it even starts, and focus on keeping your home and family safe. In the unfortunate event a fire does break out in your home, don’t panic and focus on deciding if you can fight the fire, or if you must take safety actions and leave the premises.

To stop a fire before it starts, test your smoke detectors. It’s easy to forget about these devices until they start chirping in the middle of the night. It’s a good idea to test your batteries once a month, if they’re not working, replace them immediately. If you have trouble remembering to test the batteries, it may help to set a reminder in your smartphone alongside with changing your air filters.

Inspect all sources of heat in your home. It doesn’t matter how you heat your house, it’s beneficial to have it checked once a year. Change your furnace filters on a regular basis to avoid a fire caused by lint and dust buildup. If you use space heaters, make sure they are at least three feet away from combustible material like fabrics or papers. It’s smart to check your water heater as well, especially when it’s run by gas and has a pilot light. Keep all materials away from the heating element.

The stove is a place most grease fires happen. Fires can also start because forgotten food particles on the burner got too hot. Curtains hanging too close to the stove are a risk not worth taking. Also, don’t rest towels, or a cookbook on the stove top. The best way to prevent stove fires is to never leave a hot cooking surface unattended, and keep the stove and oven space clean when not in use.

If you have a gas-powered dryer, have it inspected by a licensed professional once a year to make sure there are no leaks and all connections are secure. How’s the lint trap on your dryer? All dryers have lint traps, which require emptying. No matter what type of dryer you have, always clean out the lint filter after EVERY load is finished. Regularly check behind and around your dryer in case loose articles of clothing or lint has built up. You may find some lost socks! Use a shop vacuum, or hire a professional to completely clean all lint and debris from the external dryer vents at least once a year.

Did you know electrical cords can produce heat? Regularly check the condition of your power cords and look for nicks or frayed wires. Repair or replace any damaged cords. Keep from putting cords under rugs, between furniture and tight wall spaces. When cords aren’t in use, unplug the appliances that feel warm to the touch when connected to power, including phone chargers. Extension cords are used as a temporary fix because they can deteriorate in time with continuous use. If you are using extension cords, make sure they are safety rated for the wattage of the appliance or device they are powering. When using power strips or surge protectors, don’t cheap out and use only trusted name brands.

Many household cleaners and cosmetic products like shaving cream and hair spray are extremely flammable! Keep these products away from heat, including exposure to sunlight. Designate a cupboard for flammable products and make sure you communicate to your family members where these things should be stored. If you have combustible materials, like gas and paint, store them in tightly closed, approved containers. If a container has a crack or leak, transfer the contents to a new container, which also should be approved for storing the same combustible materials.

Candles look and smell great, but can be dangerous! Love scented candles around the holidays? Make sure you use them carefully, or else they can cause a fire. Make sure you put them out before exiting a room and keep them far away from any flammable materials like blankets or papers on a table. If you are heading to bed and have a candle burning, get up and blow the candle out. Avoid placing candles on uneven surfaces like carpet or chairs, because it’s easy for them to fall over. If you have pets, keep candles high up, out of their reach.

Use your fireplace during the winter responsibly. To avoid errant sparks escaping and causing a fire, install a metal fire screen in front of your fireplace. Never, under any circumstance, leave a fire unattended. Give ashes plenty of time to cool down before disposing of them. Always place your fireplace ash in a metal container that isn’t used for any other household trash. Have your chimney professional cleaned at least once per year to prevent creosote and other materials from building up and causing a chimney fire.

If the unfortunate event a fire does occur in your home, if you decide to fight it, here’s how we recommend approaching the varying types of fires.

There are five different types of fires:

Class A Fires – Extinguish with water.

Class A fires ignite from common fuel sources like wood, trash, fabric, paper, and plastics. These fires usually start accidentally. Extinguish this type of fire with a continuous stream of water or monoammonium phosphate. Combustible and hazardous materials may explode at any given time. If you detect or suspect the presence of hazardous materials in the fire, contact your fire department immediately.

Class B Fires – Extinguish by depleting oxygen.

Class B fires are usually the result of exploding flammable liquids or gases. Flammable liquids and gases like, petroleum-based oils, paint, alcohol, solvents, gasoline, kerosene, butane and propane are all examples of these things. In the event of a Class B fire, if you attempt to extinguish it, smother the flames immediately. Removing oxygen, which feeds the flames, deadens the fire. Dry chemicals like ammonium phosphate or pressurized carbon dioxide are also effective against this type of fire. NEVER attempt to extinguish a Class B fire with water. Water will cause the flammable liquids to splatter and spread the flames!

Class C Fires – Extinguish by cutting power.

Class C fires commonly occur from electrical components like transformers, appliances, and motors. Faulty wiring or a overwhelmed surge protector can start this type of fire. Space heaters, bad home wiring, and outdated appliances or lights are also suspect to spark. Extinguish Class C fires by cutting off the electrical power, which serves as a fuel source for the main fire. Non-conductive materials like carbon dioxide can be used to suppress the flames.

Class D Fires – Extinguish with dry powder.

Class D fires are the result of combustible metals like titanium, magnesium, sodium, lithium, aluminum, and potassium. Labs are the most common place to find these types of materials. Dry powder agents are the ideal extinguisher in this situation and water should NEVER be used since most liquids will worsen this type of fire. Advised dry powder agents to use are, graphite powder, powdered copper, and sodium chloride.

Class K Fires – Extinguish with chemical fire extinguishers.

Class K fires are most commonly caused by a spark from grease, lard, olive oil, butter, and animal or vegetable fats. Anyone in the kitchen should be knowledgeable of the risks behind these fires on the stovetop. Overheated foods in the microwave can also start a cooking fire. The best way to put out a Class K fire is with a chemical fire extinguisher. Homes and restaurants should be equipped with these types of extinguishers and all those that operate in the area should understand how to use them.

In any case, in the event you experience a loss to your home or business space due to smoke or fire. Encore RRC Inc is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and the latest education in fire damage restoration and cleanup services. Click here to contact us and our insured fire damage specialists will arrive onsite to conduct an assessment of the damaged caused by the fire or smoke.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to proceed after experiencing a loss due to smoke or fire, read this blog we wrote on the process to follow after such an event.