Knowing Your House: Home Fire Prevention

Home Exterior of a large house.When it comes to avoiding home fires, there’s a lot of good traditional advice: replace smoke detectors, avoid grease fires, avoid unattended flames, and properly use and maintain your home’s heaters. But a lot about the danger of the fires isn’t impacted about how they start, but how they spread. Your home itself can impact if fires start and how much they will spread. So whether you’re looking at buying a new home or safeguarding the one you’re currently in, having knowledge about its construction and layout can help you with home fire prevention. The following information is from a UL Science report, designed to look at how modern fires have changed for firefighters.

How Your Home Was Built

Modern home construction has changed over the years, resulting in lighter frames made of more resilient and cheaper materials. The modern 2×4 is actually 1.5 by 3.5 inches (this is shrinkage due to drying), which means a lighter construction. If produced within recent years, your home will also most likely take advantage of man-made materials like plywood and particle board, which are often less dense and more flammable due to chemicals used in their creation.

Floor Plans and Windows

Does your home have an open layout of vaulted ceilings and wide rooms? These can actual work against you in the case of a fire. Older style buildings with smaller rooms and bottlenecking doorways can help keep a fire compartmentalized for longer. Likewise, modern windows – modern design commonly with vinyl frames – tend to fail faster than the pre-80s legacy windows which have thicker glazed panes and wooden frames.

Your Furniture and Its Layout

Modern furniture shares a lot in common with your home construction: lighter and less expensive, and most also contain a lot of synthetic materials such as plastic or polyurethane foam.  These materials can be very flammable (burning like the petroleum-derived products they are), and produce thick toxic smoke that can hinder firefighters. This is also a reason to look at your furniture layout with spacing between pieces in mind, to help avoid the spread of fire.

Big Home Fire Hazards

Of course, with the previous hazards in mind, it’s important to think about the size of the home (the one you’re currently in, or thinking of moving into). The bigger the house and the more contents, the more fuel for the fire. Fire expands exponentially, so the more fuel it has, the sooner it can turn from a little flame to a dangerous fire to a roaring inferno. The time it takes for a fire to turn from a smoldering flame into a raging fire has shrunk: where it used to be 30 minutes, now it is 5 minutes as more fuel is available.

Regardless of where you are as a homeowner, it’s considerations like these that can help when the unexpected happens. It’s also important to make sure your home and belongings are insured against loss from fire and other common hazards. Contact TJ Woods today about Homeowners Insurance: either about getting a new policy, or reviewing the coverage of your current one.