3335 W St Germain St.
Suite 108
St. Cloud, MN 56301

(320) 656-8890

Habi-Home Maintenance and Improvements: Fire Prevention in Your Home

May 24, 2024

Fire! Fire!

Now that I have your attention, let’s take this month to make sure we know how to prevent fires, and how to make sure your home is ready if a fire does occur.

As we know, today’s homes are built to prevent fires, and/or to stop the spread of a fire if it occurs. Although many of the materials in a home may be similar to what they were 100 years ago, today, many materials have been re-designed or treated to prevent or limit fire capabilities. Further, building codes now require the covering of flammable (or gaseous) materials throughout the home. So what can you do to add that next layer of safety, particularly in older homes?

    • Smoke alarms:
      • If you don’t already have them, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. If you do not have smoke alarms in all these areas, hard wired alarms are best. If that is cost prohibitive, a battery operated alarm can be purchased from any hardware store. They work well, but a drained battery does mean the alarm is no longer working.
      • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re hard wired and not working, they will need replacement, preferably by a licensed electrician. If battery operated, change the batteries.
      • The general rule of thumb is smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years. Refer to the manual of each smoke alarm however, they may require replacement at more regular intervals.
  • Windows: Makes sure egress windows (the windows used for fire escapes) are fully functional. Today’s code requires stops to keep windows from fully opening without an additional step (button or lever depending on the hardware). Make sure the stop release is fully functional. And a reminder when children are at the right age, teach them how to use this release.
  • Window Wells: Make sure egress from the basement is clear of obstruction and ladders installed as needed. In particular window wells often get covered to keep water away from the home. Make sure whatever cover is installed (if any), that it is easily removable, even a child.
  • Chimneys, heating equipment: Make sure the exhaust areas are clear of debris, creosote, etc. Have cleaned as needed. Note – this includes your dryer vent!
  • Appliances and wiring: Most fires are caused by poorly maintained appliances, mechanical systems, or poor wiring. Have these items inspected and maintained by the appropriate professionals. If you have a flickering light, even after bulb replacement, you likely have a bad connection which could lead to a short. Have repaired as soon as possible.
  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
  • The best protection from fire is ultimately a fire suppression system. Although not standard in homes, prices have fallen to a point where systems can be retrofitted into most homes. Again, new homes are designed with layers of fire safety requirements. Older homes however, are not. Thinking about a fire suppression system in these older homes may be a good idea.

 

As we head into the summer and see the beautiful lush greenery of God’s creation, let’s use our fire to help change the world, while keeping our houses under control!

Build a
brighter
future
for Central
Minnesota

3335 W St Germain St.
Suite 108
St. Cloud, MN 56301

(320) 656-8890

©2023 by Central MN Habitat for Humanity.