This week for the International Building Safety month the ICC (International Code Council) turns its focus to . For this let me just say a simple Amen, as we have seen way to many fires & they are generally caused by an electrical fault or space heater. The worst part is most of them did not even have a working smoke detector. Below is their top ten tips, with links to resources on the HTRC & elsewhere.
- Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and rooms and on each level of your home.
- Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
- When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
- Test your smoke alarm each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- Install noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on attic/soffit vents and around elevated wood decks to keep out embers. Install approved or listed spark arrestors on chimneys of solid fuel or liquid fuel burning appliances.
- Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
- Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
- Maintain a “defensible” space around your home by clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around all structures. Clear dead leaves and branches to leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees.
- Plant fire prone trees and shrubs away from your home and far enough apart so they won’t ignite one another.
I do have a few bones to pick with this set as the last 5 only apply to areas where wildfires are a risk. Along those lines, the ¼ inch screen mentioned in #6 should not only be by those vents for that reason but also to keep critters out which applies to all houses.
I also noticed a few glaring omissions like carbon monoxide alarms, dryer vents, cooking fires, etc… As we have mentioned numerous times (and it is now part of the code) a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in every house. I guess I should also say Mea Culpa as I still have never gotten around to doing an article solely on the subject of cleaning dryer vents, but this is one area that needs to be done yearly at a minimum.