When you buy a new home, fire safety probably isn’t the first thing on your mind.
Figuring out where to put your furniture, which bedroom everyone is going to use, where to hang that painting you love—that’s the fun part of moving into a new home. However, in the middle of all that nesting, it’s critical to take some time to develop a fire safety plan for your and your family members.
Here are a few fire safety tips for your new home.
Take note of all smoke alarms and check the batteries regularly.
Notice where your home’s smoke alarms are installed and check the batteries after you move in. You should have an alarm on each level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside any sleeping areas (like an upstairs hallway).
If you need additional ones, install them as soon as possible. You should also test each alarm’s batteries each month to make sure they’re still working, and always change the batteries immediately if needed.
Create a fire escape plan.
If a house fire occurs, you may have less than two minutes to get to safety, according to the American Red Cross. That’s why it’s so important that everyone in your family knows how to escape if a fire breaks out.
You can use this graph to map out your home’s floor plan and plot out your escape routes. Each family member should know two ways to escape from every room in your home (for example, through the door or through a window). Practice your escape plan twice a year.
Designate an outdoor meeting spot.
In case of a fire, you’ll need a designated safe, outdoor spot for everyone in your family to meet. The spot could be at a neighbor’s home, at the curb by your mailbox—anywhere that is a safe distance from your house. Practice meeting at the outdoor spot when you practice your fire escape plan.
Get serious about fire prevention.
Assuming your new home went through an inspection before closing, you should be well aware of any potential structural fire hazards—old wiring, compromised appliances, or loose insulation in the attic, for example. If you do have any of these problems, you may want to hire a contractor or find a good handyman, depending on the issue.
But that still means you have to be aware of smaller fire hazards that are a part of everyday life, like keeping flammable items too close to a stove, space heater, or radiator, or blowing a fuse by overloading a power outlet.
If you have children, it’s important to talk with them about fire safety. Talk to them about matches, candles, appliances, and fireplaces and the correct way to use them. Let them know that these things can start fires and, if they’re quite young, that they should never touch or use any of those things without a grown-up present.
Fire prevention and fire safety are hugely important to keeping your family safe, especially after moving into a new home. By taking the time to create a fire safety plan, designating an outdoor meeting spot, and exercising adequate fire prevention, you’ll be keeping both your loved ones and that new home safe.