Safety Tips for First-Time Homeowners
You finally moved into your new home and it feels so good to make it your own. As you put your personal stamp on your home, make sure to address any potential hazards that may have come up during the inspection or after a few months of living at your new residence. Fire hazards are a serious and widespread problem. You may not be aware that a residential fire happens every 66 seconds. As August is National Preparedness Month, now is as great a time as any for homeowners to address potential safety hazards in a home and reduce the possibility of having a fire in their home.
It costs money to own and maintain your home. Not fixing and repairing the following issues can lead to electrical shocks or potential fires in your first major investment. Protect yourself, your family and other residents, such as family pets, with the following first-time homeowner safety tips.
Know Where Fires Can Occur
Oftentimes, fires start in the workroom, basement, attic, bedroom, living room and kitchen – but it is important to look for fire hazards in any room of the house. Fires can be caused by a number of reasons including overloaded electrical wires, appliances in poor repair, unattended kitchen cooking, unattended barbecues, sparks from a fireplace and cigarette ashes. In many cases, these fires can be prevented if a homeowner is diligent. A responsible homeowner can take precautions to address hazards involving the wiring and maintenance of their home.
Address a Pest Infestation
Mice, rats and other rodents often like to chew items in the house. This can often include your electrical wires and cables. As the inner wires are exposed, electrical shorts and shocks can occur. Such pests often use nesting materials that are flammable. Electrical sparks can easily become a fire. Learn the early signs of a pest infestation and address it quickly should one ever be discovered.
Replace Outdated Panels and Breakers
Many first-time homeowners purchase an existing home over one that is newly built. Older electrical wiring, along with an outdated panel and breaker system, can result in a house fire. Older electrical panels should be inspected and in many instances replaced. Do not attempt to modify outdated breakers and have a licensed electrician perform the inspection. As a general rule of thumb, if a home improvement project requires working with electricity or wires, it is best to work with a professional.
Learn When Not to Use Water to Put Out a Fire
What happens when a fire does occur? Is water always the answer? Residents should have a few options at their disposal when it comes to putting out small fires in the home. A chemical fire extinguisher should typically be used on electrical fires. An electrical fire will only grow larger if water is used on it. There are different types of fire extinguishers and it is important to use them as designed. Fire extinguishers should be placed in the kitchen, workshop and garage.
Class A extinguishers are to be used on ordinary combustibles. Class B extinguishers are designed for use on flammable liquids. Class C extinguishers are designed to work on fires from circuit breakers, outlets, wiring and electrical equipment. It is important for anyone that may be left home alone to know how to properly use the extinguisher and be able to identify the source or type of fire.
Extinguishers in a home need to be inspected once a month. When a fire is larger, is spreading or may trap a person within a home, it is more important for owners and residents to leave the house and call for assistance once safely outside.
Get Informed and Stay Safe
All first-time homeowners should learn how to use fire extinguishers and understand the home hazards which can result in a fire. Proper maintenance of a home is one way to avoid experiencing a preventable residential fire, but even things like cleaning and de-cluttering can help to minimize risks.