During the dry summer months, wildfires are a constant concern throughout California. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

So, you survived the 4th of July without any major fire-related catastrophes. However, just because the fireworks have subsided (for the most part—watch out for stragglers), it doesn’t mean you can cruise through the rest of fire season on autopilot. To make sure you have your bases covered in terms of fire safety, take a look at this checklist:

1. Make sure your smoke detectors are operational. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been tempted to remove the batteries from a smoke alarm—especially by the 27th time you inadvertently set it off while cooking bacon. However, in the event of a legitimate fire emergency, having your smoke detectors out of commission can carry dire consequences. If you want to cut down on the frequency of accidental triggers, consider swapping out your old units for recently updated models. In addition to being equipped with built-in, tamper-proof batteries to ensure functionality, the new smoke alarms have a “hush” feature, so the next time you burn your toast, the mere touch of a button will restore tranquility to your home environment.

2. Make sure your fire extinguisher is up-to-date and functional. Like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers are a key fixture of in-home fire safety. However, also like smoke detectors, they need to be intermittently inspected. To do this, check the unit’s pressure gauge: if the needle falls within the green area, it’s functional; if it falls anywhere else, it needs to either be serviced or replaced. Note that some older models don’t have these gauges, in which case you’ll need to have the unit inspected by a professional. Of course, if your extinguisher is old or in poor condition, it’s likely time to replace it anyway. For more info on fire extinguishers, read this informative article.

Be prepared in the event of a kitchen fire by making sure your home’s smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are functional. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

Be prepared in the event of a kitchen fire by making sure your home’s smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are functional. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

3. Minimize outdoor fire hazards. Outdoor fire prevention is a top concern during the summer, particularly if you live near wildland areas. A wildfire can start from something as simple as sparks from motorized landscaping equipment or stray embers from a barbeque, so be sure to exercise caution when engaged in outdoor activities. In addition to maintaining a sufficient buffer zone around barbeques and fire pits, make sure to thoroughly saturate remaining charcoal briquettes and ashes with water after use.

Another pivotal aspect of outdoor fire safety is landscape maintenance. Prevent brush fires by removing dead leaves and other vegetation around your home (don’t forget the gutters!), and keep trees and bushes well-pruned. This goes for your lawn as well, especially if you’ve cut back on watering during the drought, as dry grass is extremely flammable. Consider using fire-resistant plants and landscaping techniques to further minimize the chances of wildfires.

In addition to maintaining your landscape, make sure to store firewood, flammable liquids, and similar materials away from your home and outbound buildings. Plan to create a 30-foot zone of fire-resistant space around your home, which will greatly reduce the likelihood of fires starting and/or spreading.

4. Address any electrical issues. Even if you’ve secured fire safety outside your home, remember that a fire can start just as easily from within. One of the most common causes of house fires is malfunctioning or overburdened electrical components. With the increased use of electrical devices today, it’s not uncommon for circuits to become overloaded, especially in older homes, so make sure your system is capable of handling your usage patterns. If you’re frequently blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, or if you notice outlets and switches that are hot to the touch, don’t hesitate to call an electrician—these are all indicators of an unsafe wiring condition.

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Firewood Storage

15 Responses

  1. Kyle Ross says:

    These are some good tips, and I like your advice to consider putting in fire-resistant plants in your landscape. My wife loves to garden, and she loves to put a variety of plants around our yard, so I think it would be pretty simple to put some less flammable ones near our fire pit and barbecue. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Betty Johnson says:

    Most people would agree that having a working smoke detector is a good idea. That would be awesome to have a “hush” feature for the times I accidentally burn things. Maybe I should upgrade. Also, I keep forgetting to check my fire extinguisher. I need to do that.

  3. DoloresB says:

    Fire safety is really important to know for whatever situation you seem to be in. It’s good to make sure the fire and smoke detectors are working properly. It’s also good to make sure that everyone knows how to use the fire extinguisher.

  4. Olivia Sherwin says:

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to make sure your smoke detectors are operational. Mine tends to go unnoticed until it goes of inadvertently, so it’s been a while since I’ve had it inspected. I’ll definitely get that done and replace or repair it if it’s having problems. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Jake White says:

    One of my neighbors recently had a fire start in his house, and it has caused my wife and I to be a little more conscious of how our own house is in terms of fire safety. I really enjoyed reading these tips, and I realized that we don’t even own a fire extinguisher. I’ll have to invest into one of those soon so thank you for sharing this!

  6. Stewart Boomer says:

    Thank you for noting the importance of keeping fire alarms operational. I had a neighbor just this last year who hadn’t kept up his fire alarms and when he had a little fire in his kitchen, he lost valuable time in responding to it because his alarms hadn’t worked right. Thankfully he was able to salvage most of his things, and he saved the house, but it was a great reminder to me to check my alarms as often as I can. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jeff Curtis says:

    I really like your tip about making sure your fire extinguisher is up to date. I know that a lot of people don’t realize that fire extinguishers can loose their pressure, and have other reasons for getting to old. Thanks for the great help with fire safety, I will go check my fire extinguisher again to make sure I’m in the green.

  8. Vicky Durrant says:

    Like you, I think that one of the best ways to prevent fires from damaging your home is to have a working fire extinguisher. I can’t tell you the number of times that having a fire extinguisher saved my home from burning down as a child. My older brothers were always playing with fire, so my mother was sure to keep a fire extinguisher in almost every room in our house. While I don’t live at home any more, I followed my mother’s example and put several fire extinguishers throughout my house. I think that it’s better to be safe than sorry! Thank you for posting!

  9. Jordan Leavitt says:

    I really like how you mentioned that, “If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been tempted to remove the batteries from a smoke alarm—especially by the 27th time you inadvertently set it off while cooking bacon.” This is a very common thing that people do over the years. I almost started a fire the other day and got really concern about my house safety. Thanks for sharing these tips about preventing a fire.

  10. Tyler Meredith says:

    I like what this article mentions about addressing electrical issues. Installing fire alarms and fire extinguishers is good to do, but I think prevention could really be helpful. I’ll have to look into having an electrician come out to makes sure everything works alright.

  11. Lillian Moore says:

    Thanks for the article! I love the suggestion to check fire extinguisher’s and make sure they are up to date and functional. Having an older kind of fire extinguishers can be dangerous since the gauge could be broken or the chemicals inside could be out of date. I have all my kitchen fire safety tools checked once a month to ensure that my family and I are safe in case of a fire. I really appreciate the great advice you have given, I hope to add them to my own safety portfolio for the future.

  12. Kyler Brown says:

    I’ll never turn down tips when it comes to fire safety. I haven’t checked my fire extinguisher in a while, so this is a good reminder to make sure mine is up-to-date and functional. Also, I liked your tip to make sure smoke detectors are operational. Thanks!

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