October is Fire Prevention & Safety Month - Part 1

Electrical - Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits and frayed or pinched electric cords increase the risk of fire. Verify the electrical system complies with local building codes. Do not overload outlets with multiple appliances. Replace frayed cords. Avoid pinching cords or placing rugs over them.

Kitchen - Kitchen fires are often the result of unattended cooking. Stay near the stove while food is heating. Keep potholders, paper towels, food packaging and other flammable materials away from burners.

Laundry Room - Lint is highly ignitable. Clean the lint filter each time you use the clothes dryer and periodically remove lint from the dryer vent.

Heat Sources (Space Heater, Fireplace, Wood Stove, Furnace) - Use only a UL approved space heater placed three feet away from curtains, rugs, furniture and other combustibles. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room. Hire a professional to inspect the fireplace, wood stove and furnace before cold temperatures arrive. Clean and repair the chimney or stove pipe as needed. Burn only seasoned wood. Remove cooled ashes and place them in a metal container. Keep combustibles such as newspapers, oily rags, gasoline or other fluids at least three feet away from any heat source.

Bedroom - Do not smoke in bed. An improperly extinguished cigarette can lead to a fire.

Deck - Grills, smokers and electric fryers can overheat or lead to a grease fire. Place outside cooking gadgets at least three feet away from the house, trees, shrubs or anything combustible.

Those inside the house will need to get out quickly in the event of a fire. Preparation is the best way to prevent fire-related injuries and save loved ones' lives. Focus on the following three areas.

Smoke Detectors - Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and near bedrooms. Illinois law requires hardwired smoke detectors in homes built after 1988. If you live in a home built before 1988, test your smoke detectors every four weeks and replace batteries every six months. Or, consider upgrading to a smoke detector with a 10-year nonremovable battery that provides an alert when the unit needs to be replaced. Homes built before 1988 must have this new style smoke detector by January 1, 2023 per Illinois law.

Escape Plan - Create a strategy for exiting the house along with a back-up plan. Keep these paths clear. Periodically practice both escape routes to confirm household members know what to do in a fire emergency. Identify a place outside the home where everyone will meet in case of a fire emergency.

Fire Extinguishers - Keep a chemical grade fire extinguisher in the kitchen. It is also a good idea to place a multi-use fire extinguisher on each level of your home.