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How to Create a Fire Safe Home

Keep your home as safe from fire as possible with the tips in this DIY Basic.

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Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Make an Escape Plan and Check Smoke Alarms

Start by making a fire escape plan for every room in your home. Regular fire drills will ensure that everyone in your family knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Smoke alarm batteries should be checked twice a year. An easy way to remember is to check them on the days in spring and fall when you change your clocks. Some fire departments will change smoke alarm batteries for free. Smoke alarms should be on every floor and in every bedroom.

Step 3: Put Fire Extinguishers in Kitchens and Furnace Rooms

Kitchens and furnace rooms should have fire extinguishers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping fire extinguishers up to date. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to use a fire extinguisher. The kitchen is the number-one site for home fires. Do not leave cooking unattended. If grease catches fire, cover the pan to smother the flames.

Step 4: Store Supplies in a Window Seat

A window seat in an upper-floor bedroom can hold escape ladders, fire-resistant blankets, masks and flashlights. You can build one with a pedestal frame of 1x4s and plywood. The frame should be leveled and screwed to the walls and floor. Then you cover it with plywood. The lid can be attached with a piano hinge or a hidden hinge.

Window seat cabinets should be sturdy and made of solid wood. The window seat frame should be the width of the window and the depth of the cabinets minus the doors and a 1/4-inch toe kick.

Paint or varnish unfinished cabinets before installing them. Remove the cabinet doors before installing the cabinets. If the cabinets are not a perfect fit, cover the gaps with molding that has been finished to match the cabinets. Fill all screw and nail holes with wood putty and touch up with paint or stain.

Step 5: Take Other Precautions

Adding trim pieces inside the panels will tie the window seat into the rest of the room, disguising the fire safety items inside.

Annually service appliances such as clothes dryers, bathroom ceiling fans and ovens. Also, repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. Vacuum lint out of exhaust fans regularly to prevent ceiling fires caused by sparks igniting the lint. Inspect and clean your dehumidifier regularly.

Have a professional clean your chimney to minimize creosote build-up and prevent chimney fires. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep lit candles at least 12 inches from flammable items. Use candleholders that will not tip over easily.

Replace double-key deadbolts on exterior doors with easy-to-open, interior thumb-screw deadbolts. One final safety note: Fire insurance should be up to date.

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