When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around many people in the insurance and fire safety industries begin to focus on holiday safety….and rightfully so! However, as your Atlanta Independent Insurance Agent we wanted to take this time to remind you that fire safety doesn’t end with the Holidays and goes far beyond not frying a turkey or starting a fire like Clark Griswold….however, if you ARE frying a turkey or setting up an elaborate light display we would urge you to exercise extreme caution!?

Develop and practice a fire escape plan

Your children are required to practice a fire drill once a month at school, but do you have a fire escape plan at home? Results from a 2007 survey1 state that only 23% of homes in the U.S. have a fire escape plan and practice it. And with fire experts agreeing that nowadays you only have two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out, having an escape plan is more critical than ever.2

Two minutes is a scary short amount of time and another reason to make sure you have a working monitored alarm setup. Check out these resources to learn more about developing and practicing an escape plan for you and your family:

Check the smoke detectors in your home

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke alarms should be tested monthly and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year.3 Ideally, all of your smoke detectors will be interconnected throughout your home so that if, for example, a fire begins in the kitchen, someone working in the basement or upstairs will be alerted at the same time. Some other critical but often overlooked places to install smoke detectors are in the attic, garage and mechanical room.

Keeping it safe in the kitchen

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fire and home injuries.4 Here are some tips to keep the risk of fire to a minimum while you’re cooking up a storm:

  • Did you know most cooking fires in the home involve the kitchen stove? Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and make sure EVERYONE in the family knows where it is.

Safe and dry with your clothes dryer

  • When you’re drying clean clothes, be sure to do it with a clean dryer! The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.5
    Follow these tips to prevent a clothes dryer fire: Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry! This helps prevent a fire, and it also helps your laundry dry faster.6
  • Clean your dryer duct annually (at least). If your dryer is taking longer than it normally does to dry, there may be blockage in the dryer vent system. If you check the vent outside while you’re drying a load and you don’t see or feel exhaust air, the vent or exhaust duct may be blocked with lint. Here’s how to clean it:
  1. Disconnect your dryer from the power source. If you have a gas dryer, turn off the gas valve near the dryer as well.
  2. Carefully slide the dryer away from the wall so that you can access the vent that’s typically in the back of the dryer.
  3. Disconnect the duct from the dryer, and vacuum both the dryer and the duct – as much as you can access. Then return the dryer to its original spot and reconnect the power.
  4. While you’re at it, clean behind the dryer and underneath it because lint builds up there too.

Unfortunately, our agency has seen firsthand the damage that can be done to a home when a fire breaks out. Sometimes the fire damage is contained to a small area but other times it takes down the entire house forcing the family out and destroying family treasures. Although you have an Atlanta Home Insurance policy we assure you it is best to follow fire safety best practices and not have to use it!

  1. Ballesteros MF, Kresnow M-J. Prevalence of residential smoke alarms and fire escape plans in the U.S.: Results from the second injury control and risk survey (ICARIS-2). Public Health Rep. 2007; 122(2):224-231.
  2. Sarah Layton. (2014, October 27). 2 Minute Fire Drill: Can You Escape?.
  3. Smoke alarm outreach materials. (https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/smoke_alarms.html#ans5).
  4. Cooking safety. (https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/CookingSafety.ashx?la=en).
  5. Clothes dryer safety. (https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/DryerSafetyTips.ashx?la=en).
  6. Kimberley Janeway. (2018, October 18). How to Prevent Dryer Fires. https://www.consumerreports.org/clothes-dryer/how-to-prevent-dryer-fires/
  7. Photo credit of: https://images.app.goo.gl/HvQD5EQj8g5yK36H9