Home Fire Safety Checklist

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Fires in houses and apartments are unfortunately frequent in Chicago, particularly during the winter season. Illinois experiences a higher number of fire-related casualties compared to the national average, as reported by the U.S. Fire Administration. In 2021, the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data shows that there are 2.7 deaths and 11.6 injuries per 1,000 fires in Illinois which is higher than the national average of 2.3 deaths and 7.2 injuries per 1,000 fires.

From January 2023 through October 2023, there have been 65 civilian home fire fatalities in Illinois reported in the news. Sixteen of these deaths took place in Chicago and of these, 3 were children aged 14 or younger and 2 were adults aged 65 or older.

Fire Safety Checklist for Homes

As we enter the colder months, it becomes crucial to prioritize fire safety in our homes. This not only safeguards the most vulnerable members of our community, such as children and seniors, but also ensures the safety of every family member.

Below is a home fire safety checklist compiled from recommendations by the Chicago Fire Department and The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. These fire safety tips and guidelines are designed to ensure the safety of your home and family throughout the year, especially during the winter season. It includes fundamental fire prevention tips and practices, such as equipping every level of your home with smoke alarms or detectors, as well as establishing a comprehensive home fire escape plan.

Ensure Your Fire Safety Devices Are in Working Order

The Chicago Fire Department reminds you to regularly check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in proper working order. It is also recommended to test smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least twice a year. Do not disregard a low battery warning chirp from any smoke detector and promptly replace a smoke alarm if it ceases to function. By taking these precautionary measures, you can ensure the safety and well-being of your household and possibly prevent home fire deaths.

Ensure that you have a functioning fire extinguisher or fire blanket in close proximity to any potential fire risks, such as your kitchen which could be at risk of grease fires, to effectively mitigate the risk of fire damage.

Replace Broken or Missing Safety Devices

Practice home fire safety by installing smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide alarms. In certain instances, your landlord may bear responsibility for their installation.

Make sure that you place smoke alarms in close proximity to sleeping areas, allowing them to be heard throughout the night. Install these alarms on the ceiling of every floor of your residence.

Check Your Exits and Escape Routes

The safety of your home and preventing fires involves a crucial aspect: making sure every member of your household is aware of at least two escape routes. If you have young children, it is essential to plan and practice a fire drill, familiarizing them with the fire evacuation plan to ensure their preparedness in the event of a home fire.

Keep Exits Clear

Ensure that all exits are unobstructed and easily accessible. This applies not only to windows and doors but also to fire escapes if you reside in an apartment building. To guarantee their functionality as exits, maintain a minimum clearance of three feet from windows and doors, keeping furniture and other objects clear. Also, keep communal areas with fire doors or fire escapes free from obstruction.

If you live in an apartment complex, it’s important to be aware of the location of fire exits and ensure they are free from any obstructions. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the building’s fire safety procedure.

Have a Family Emergency Plan

Having a clear family emergency plan is crucial in case of a fire. This plan should include a designated meeting spot outside your home, where everyone can gather after an evacuation.

Have a Family Emergency Contact List

It’s good to maintain an emergency contact list that includes phone numbers for every member of your family so everyone can be easily reached in case of an emergency situation.

Practicing your emergency plan is important to ensure that everyone knows what actions to take if a fire occurs.

Educate Children About Fire Safety and Keep Matches and Lighters in a Safe Area

Educating children about fire safety and the hazards of playing with matches and lighters is crucial. Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach and store them in a secure area to ensure their safety.

Teach children about the dangers of playing with fire, including candles, stoves, and grills. Encourage them to inform an adult if they witness someone else engaging in such behavior.

Additionally, ensure that children are never left unattended in the kitchen or in the vicinity of other potential fire hazards.

Be Careful with Candles, Space Heaters, and Other Potential Fire Hazards

Dangers of Candles

Candles can pose a significant risk of house fires, as highlighted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). An average of twenty home candle fires are reported every day. Therefore, exercising caution is important when using candles. Never leave them unattended and always remember to extinguish them before leaving the room or retiring for the night.

Space Heater Dangers

Space heaters are a frequent cause of house fires. It is important to exercise caution when using portable heaters, ensuring they are kept at a safe distance from flammable items such as curtains, furniture, and clothing.

Never leave space heaters unattended. Remember to turn them off when you leave the room or go to bed, as it greatly helps in preventing fires.

Additionally, it’s good to regularly check that the heaters are functioning properly and that their cords and cables are intact.

Other Fire Hazards

Additional fire hazards to be cautious of include grills, cigarettes, and fireworks. It’s important to adhere to all safety measures when using these items. Always ensure that grills, cigarettes, or fireworks are never left unattended and are properly extinguished.

Keep Flammable Items Away from Heat Sources

Flammable materials and liquids like gasoline, kerosene, propane or oil-based paints should be kept away from heat sources like space heaters, stoves, and fireplaces to help prevent home fires.

Make sure that all combustible and flammable materials are stored in a secure and designated area, safely distanced from any sources of heat.

Cooking Safety

Cooking is a major cause of house and apartment fires. To prevent fires, never leave your cooking unattended. Even if you need to step away from the kitchen momentarily, be sure to turn off the stove.

Ensure that flammable items such as towels and potholders are kept away from the stovetop so they don’t catch fire. Additionally, maintain a clean stovetop and oven, free from grease and other flammable materials. A buildup of grease can easily ignite and cause a fire hazard.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher in the Kitchen

It is recommended to have a Class ABC fire extinguisher in the kitchen, as it can effectively extinguish grease and electrical fires.

Smoking Safety

Smoking is yet another one of the leading causes of apartment and house fires. To minimize the risk of fire, never smoke in bed or while feeling drowsy. Always ensure that cigarettes are properly extinguished in an ashtray and never leave them unattended.

Make sure that lighters and matches are kept out of children’s reach. If you or someone you know smokes, it is highly recommended to consider quitting. Smoking is the primary cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Quitting not only will reduce the risk of fires but will also significantly improve your overall health.

Electrical Appliance Safety

To further reduce the risk of a home fire, make sure all electrical appliances are in good working condition and are not being overloaded. Never leave appliances like irons, hair dryers, or curling irons on and unattended. Always unplug these appliances when you are not using them.

Ensure that your home’s electrical systems are up to date and capable of handling the current load. It is also important to schedule regular furnace servicing. If extension cords are being used, make sure they are not overloaded and avoid using them for high-power appliances such as space heaters.

What to Do in the Event of a Fire

What to Do in the Event of a Fire in Your Home

If a fire does occur in your home, remain calm and follow these steps:

  • Evacuate the building immediately. Do not try to fight the fire.
  • Close all doors behind you as you leave to help contain the home fire.
  • Call 911/fire department from a safe location.
  • If you are trapped in the fire, stay low to the ground where the air is cooler and breathe through a wet cloth, always carefully test doors for heat before attempting to open them.
  • If you have to exit through smoke, hold your breath and crawl under the smoke to safety.

Remember What NOT to do In the Event of a Fire

The Chicago Fire Department recommends you never try to hide from the fire, don’t waste time collecting any valuables, don’t try to save any pets, and never use the elevators. To ensure peace of mind and the ability to swiftly execute your fire escape plan in the event of a house or apartment fire, it’s recommended to store important documents in a fire-safe container. By doing so, you can eliminate concerns about their safety and focus on your immediate evacuation.

Get Help from an Experienced Chicago Burn Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has experienced burn injuries in a house or apartment fire caused by the recklessness or negligence of another party, it is crucial to seek assistance from the skilled burn injury lawyers at The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers in Chicago. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping you obtain any compensation you might be entitled to for your injuries. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.

Fire Safety Checklist for Homes
Ensure your home is a safe haven against fires with preventive measures and safety tips.

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