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Home fires peak during winter. With so many fire hazards lurking in your Tampa, Florida, home, it’s important to be aware of the following fire prevention tips to keep your home and family safe this season.

Understand the Leading Causes of Home Fires

The best fire safety tip is to learn how to prevent fires altogether. Fires are more common during the winter because we use fireplaces, candles, and portable heaters. We also tend to cook more indoors with cooking oil, fryers, and ovens.

It’s also easy to overload electrical outlets in the winter. Only use extension cords temporarily and multi-outlet power bars and surge protectors sparingly. Also, keep electrical cords away from heat sources and water.

Install Smoke Alarms

Having smoke alarms sounds like a no-brainer, but far too many homeowners lack a sufficient number of these life-saving units. It’s also easy to forget to test your smoke alarms regularly. A working smoke alarm in the home dramatically increases your family’s chances of surviving a deadly house fire, so you want to be sure you’re using these alarms correctly.

Replace smoke alarms every eight to 10 years according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also use dual-sensor smoke alarms or install separate ionization and photoelectric alarms. Test the batteries monthly and replace them once per year unless the alarm uses a non-replaceable lithium battery.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is installing a single smoke alarm. In reality, you should have a smoke alarm on every level in your house, as well as inside and outside bedrooms. Having an alarm go off while you’re cooking may be a nuisance, but never disable a smoke alarm just before you’re frying dinner; you may forget to re-enable it.

If any of your family members are hearing-impaired, choose smoke alarms with flashing lights or vibrating pads. Also, store fire extinguishers throughout the home.

Have a Fire Escape Plan

Practicing home fire drills can make a huge difference in how your family reacts to an emergency situation. Unfortunately, most parents report that their children don’t know what to do if a fire breaks out at home, which is why you should have a fire escape plan that the entire family understands.

Choose a spot that’s close to your home but a safe distance away. Explain to your family that when the smoke alarm goes off, they need to meet at the safety spot as quickly as possible. Test your smoke alarms with family members so they know what the alarm looks and sounds like.

When you’re ready to practice a home drill, have everyone head to their rooms and wait for the smoke alarm test to sound. If there are children under six in the home, have an adult not testing the alarm help them. Once you sound the alarm, start a timer and see how long it takes for everyone to reach the safety spot. The goal is to reach safety in under two minutes.

In the event of a real fire, everyone should get to the safety spot as soon as possible and then call 911.

Invest in Home Fire Escape Tools

Depending on your home’s layout, you may need to purchase fire escape tools just to be on the safe side. For example, escape ladders are compact and expand or dangle up to five stories. If a fire breaks out on a lower level and blocks your way down the stairs, these escape ladders can save your life.

Another tool to consider is a fireproof safe or storage box for all those important documents and collectibles, including birth certificates, photographs, jewelry, and sentimental items. Just be sure you keep those important items in fireproof storage at all times; don’t try to put something in a fireproof safe once a fire has broken out.

Being prepared and following these fire safety tips can prevent the worst from happening, but there’s still a chance a fire could break out. If your family has suffered a house fire, contact ServiceMaster Restore at 813-603-2001 for our 24-hour fire damage restoration services.

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