As more people move to Central Texas, the risk of fires continues to rise. ACC Experts help you protect your home and belongings with five fire safety tips.
Written by: Ryan Grinnell, ACC Fire Training Academy director
Fire safety is not a common daily discussion topic. Usually, it doesn’t even have a spot in the top 10things normally on our mind until it’s too late. According to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in 2019, there were 354,400 residential fires. Can you guess what the top cause was? Cooking. That’s right. What most of us do daily was the reason for more than 50% of residential fires.
To take an active approach to fire safety, I have provided five simple and effective tips to ensure your home remains fire safe.
Smoke Detectors. Three out of 5 home fire deaths occur with no smoke detectors installed. Smoke detectors should be installed in most common areas, including living rooms, hallways, and just outside of bedrooms and kitchens, as well as on every level of your home. Test them monthly and replace batteries if needed. This is an inexpensive investment but remains the most common and best early warning device in case of a fire.
Never Overload Electrical Outlets. For years, my family and I have watched Clark Griswold’s antics in the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie. He boasts of having 25,000 lights adorning the exterior of his house, all plugged into a single outlet in the garage. A staggering 24,487 fires were caused by overloaded or malfunctioning electrical outlets, according to the USFA. Overloading an outlet happens far too often. If you must use multiple power cords, be sure to use only one power strip per outlet. And never “piggyback” (or string multiple strips together).
Invest in a Fire Extinguisher. Home extinguishers are inexpensive and can be the greatest difference between fire containment and a total loss. Make sure your extinguisher is ABC rated. ABC extinguishers can be used on ordinary combustibles like paper towels and newspapers, as well as grease and electrical fires. Extinguishers should be inspected regularly, easily accessible, and located throughout the home.
Keep Your Backyard and Side Yard Tidy. In 2011, Bastrop County experienced the largest wildfire in state history. More than 32,000 acres were burned, 1,600 homes were destroyed, and two lives were lost. Overgrown brush and vegetation along with dry, windy conditions caused the fire to rapidly spread. Your yard can also be a concern, if not properly taken care of. Clear brush, trim shrubbery, and remove any dead or excessive vegetation that may be close to your home. Also, cleaning out rain gutters weekly is a great practice. Dry leaves and other combustible materials will gather in them quickly.
Create, Discuss and Practice a Fire Escape Plan. This could be the life-saving tool you use to make sure everyone gets out safely. Elements to an effective Escape Plan include primary and secondary escape routes, two ways out of every room, and a meeting place outside that everyone knows. Practice your escape plan regularly, so there is no hesitation if the time comes to use it. Also, never re-enter a home once you’re outside. The goal is to “get out, stay out, and stay alive.”
Fire safety should be taken very seriously. Following these practical yet simple tips could be the difference between preventing a fire in your home and becoming a tragic statistic. Stay safe.
ACC’s Fire Academy is a semester-long program that provides training to become a certified firefighter in Texas. Upon completion, graduates receive a Firefighter Level 1 Certificate from ACC and are eligible to take the TCFP Basic Fire Suppression certification exam to become certified firefighters. For more information, visit austincc.edu/fireacademy.