On April 6, a fire that broke out at Overland Park, Kansas, displaced at least 10 people. While the incident didn’t cause any injury or fatality, that can’t be true in other situations.
By April 29, another fire, this time in rural Kansas, burned down a metal building. When it eventually died down, two calves had already died. At the beginning of the year, a teenage girl also perished when she couldn’t escape from the Wichita fire.
Fires can lead to losses in property, but more than anything else, they could cause injuries and even death. And because these problems often involve structures like homes, property owners need to exercise more due diligence to be more fire-safe or even be fire-proof.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Have Your Vent Dryer Cleaned
Why do clothes dryers have vents? To dry the clothes, the machine introduces heated air into the materials while the drum rotates. Because of the heat, the moisture that remains in the clothing evaporates.
However, unless it really gets out of the machine, the moisture will only become condensation. It then increases the risk of moisture and mildew. A vent, therefore, brings that moisture out of the machine and even the home.
But moisture is often the least of a homeowner’s list of worries when it comes to dryers. The data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revealed that this equipment, while helpful, can also cause over 15,000 fires each year.
These incidents resulted in nearly $250 million in property losses, over 350 injuries, and at least 50 deaths. The reason: lint.
As clothes tumble inside the machine, lint can break down and gather into the lint trap. But often, it can also end up inside the other parts of the dryer, like the vent. The machine runs on electricity or gas, so if it comes into contact with lint, the latter can act as a combustible material.
How can homeowners avoid dryer fires? Those living in Kansas can look for specialists in dryer vent cleaning. Although owners can clean the ducts and vents themselves, this is literally dirty work and may require expert skills.
As a bonus, having the dryer vent cleaned at least once a year can keep the entire machine in good condition. It prevents longer drying times that can be hard on both the clothes and the utility bills.
2. Use the Right Smoke Alarm and Install It Properly
Smoke alarms can save lives, but this happens only when they are installed properly. In a 2021 report by Marty Ahrens of the NFPA:
- About 16 percent of the fire deaths from 2014 to 2018 occurred in homes whose smoke alarms failed to operate.
- The death rate for every 1,000 homes declines by 55 percent in properties with working smoke alarms compared to houses with either no smoke alarm or a faulty smoke alarm.
- Eleven percent of the reported deaths involved individuals who likely didn’t hear any alarm since the device didn’t work.
The NFPA highly recommends installing smoke alarms in each sleeping room and outside the bedrooms. There should be at least an alarm on every level of the property. If the house uses many alarms, these devices must be interconnected. This means if one activates, the rest will also create a sound.
Besides proper installation, the choice of smoke alarm also matters. First, look for those devices that have passed the latest UL standards. In 2021, UL is set to introduce more tests to reduce false fire alarms, including the hamburger nuisance alarm test.
Moreover, in the Ahrens report, the data cited that although hardwired smoke alarms were found in nearly 50 percent of the reported home fires, about 65 percent of incidents that resulted in fatal injuries occurred in properties with battery-operated alarms.
Battery-powered alarms operated less than 85 percent of the time compared to 94 percent of hardwired alarms. The difference may be attributed to the fact that batteries can run out without the homeowner knowing it.
3. Invest in a Fire Door
Homeowners can also install a fire door, especially in key areas like the kitchen. They have high fire-resistant ratings, and they may slow down the spread of the fire by as long as 30 to 60 minutes.
That is more than enough time for all residents to get out of the burning house. This is also particularly helpful in states like Kansas that can also be prone to wildfires.
Note, though, that online are different tips on how to convert normal doors to fire doors. Often, these won’t work and can even be dangerous.
One, fire doors need to be tested for quality and protection. They are also built differently than regular doors. For example, they are significantly thicker.
Fires can happen for many reasons that no device or strategy can guarantee they won’t happen. However, homeowners can do a lot of things to slow them down or reduce the risks significantly.