Fires claim the lives of thousands of people and result in substantial amounts of property damage every year. In many cases this is because common fire prevention tips were not followed. The number of interior and exterior fires can be reduced if children are taught the dangers of fire, people smoke responsibly, and certain activities are always supervised.
Smoke alarms can play an important role in fire prevention. For this to be the case, however, people have to use them properly. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of a building and there should be a sufficient number of devices on each level. These devices should be tested and cleaned regularly and the batteries should be changed at least once a year. Smoke alarms generally have a lifespan of about ten years, so they should be replaced at least once per decade.
There are certain household activities that should be monitored for the sake of fire prevention. One of these is cooking. A stove that is in use should never be left unattended and all flammable materials, such as pot holders or food packages, should be kept away from the burners. Care must also be taken when doing laundry. Dryers are often responsible for domestic fires and, therefore, should not be left unattended.
People should always be observant of the electrical wiring in the buildings they occupy. Extension cords and power strips should be used according to their instructions, which generally warn against overloading them or placing them in areas where they will overheat. Any broken or frayed wires or cords should be immediately repaired or replaced. If this is not possible, use should be discontinued and damaged items should be discarded.
Teaching children good habits can also play a major role in fire prevention. Children should begin receiving lessons at a very young age about the dangers of fire and heat-producing devices. Matches and lighters should not be carelessly left around when small children are present. Furthermore, children should not be allowed to use or adjust equipment such as cooking stoves, heating stoves, or irons, without adult supervision.
There are also special fire prevention considerations for smokers. Cigarettes that are carelessly tossed away can result in exterior or interior fires. People who smoke should not discard cigarette butts on dry ground or into trashcans. Instead, when a person is finished smoking, he should have a receptacle designated for his waste. People are also advised not to smoke when they are in bed or drowsy.