In the last year, many people have discovered the benefits of working from home. You save time by avoiding your commute, your working environment is more customizable, and you don’t have to worry about distractions from coworkers. However, just because you’re more comfortable working from home doesn’t mean that you’ll have no health or safety concerns.
While working from home, you may have more equipment plugged into your outlets than usual. You might be running appliances more frequently or cooking lunch on your stove. These activities can increase your risk of a house fire, especially if you find yourself juggling household tasks while simultaneously focusing on work.
Getting assistance from a fire protection service company can dramatically reduce your risk of a fire and help you avoid a catastrophe. Here are 10 fire safety steps you should take while working from home:
1. Check electrical cords for damage.
Frayed, worn, or damaged electrical cords are a major cause of house fires. Regularly check your computer and phone chargers, appliance cords, TV cords, and other electrical cables to make sure they’re still in good condition. You can also extend the lifespan of these cords by keeping them away from foot traffic and pets.
2. Don’t overload outlets or power strips.
It may be tempting to plug all of your work equipment into one outlet but overwhelming an outlet can be a serious fire risk. Invest in a power board with a surge protector to prevent an electrical fire. Wherever possible, disperse your electrical appliances so that you don’t crowd one outlet. If necessary, you could hire an electrician to install extra power outlets.
3. Unplug items when not in use.
Although leaving your phone, computer, or other electronics on the charger can be convenient, it’s safer to unplug your devices once they’re fully charged. Sometimes, these cables can emit heat when left plugged in for a long time, which could lead to a fire. Instead of charging your phone or laptop overnight, you could charge it in the evening or when you wake up so that you don’t leave the device plugged in for longer than necessary.
4. Keep fire extinguishers.
Your home should have fire extinguishers wherever there’s a potential for a fire. This includes the kitchen, the fireplace or heater, and the garage. There should be at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your home. Make sure you and your family members know how to use the extinguishers, too. If the time comes for you to use one, you’ll likely be feeling panic, but you’ll have a clearer mind if you’ve already learned how to use it. Your fire extinguisher should be tested by a fire service company at regular intervals.
5. Never leave your cooking unattended.
A large percentage of house fires start in the kitchen. This might be especially risky for people who work from home because you may leave the stove or oven unattended if you get an unexpected phone call or forget about your food while working on a task. Only cook when you know that you won’t get distracted, or work from the kitchen so that you can supervise the stove at the same time. Double-check that you turn the stove and oven off when you’re done cooking, too.
6. Clean out the lint trap in the clothes dryer after every use.
One of the greatest benefits of working from home is that you can take care of household tasks throughout your work day. Changing your laundry from the washer to the dryer takes very little time, so it’s an easy chore to complete while you work. However, don’t be so rushed or distracted by your job that you forget to clean the lint filter. The filter prevents the dryer from overheating, and it needs to be cleaned after every use. It only takes a few seconds to clear away the lint, but it can prevent a devastating house fire.
7. Place a guard around your fireplace or heater.
The more time you spend at home, the more you’ll have to run your heating system in the colder months. If you have a fireplace, wood stove, or electric heater, place a guard around it as a protective measure. This will keep children and pets away from the heat source, and it will remind you not to place items so close to the heater that they could catch fire.
8. Clear space around your heater.
No matter what type of heating system you use, there should be at least a couple feet of space between the heater and other items. Curtains are an especially dangerous household object that can catch fire extremely easily, but clothes, toys, firewood, and other items can create a problem as well.
9. Test and change your smoke alarm batteries.
Your smoke alarm can save your life, so it’s critical that it stays in good working condition. The general recommendation is to change the batteries in the smoke alarm once per year and to test the alarm once per month. Gently clean the alarm on occasion to stop it from accumulating dust, too. Most smoke alarms need to be replaced entirely every 10 years.
10. Discuss fire safety with your family.
In case an emergency does happen, everyone in your family should be familiar with a fire safety plan. This is particularly important if you have children, but adult members of the household should also consider what they would do in the event of a house fire. Identify all possible ways to exit the home and choose a meeting place outside for everyone to gather. Planning in advance can help everyone stay safe even in the worst-case scenario.
A house fire is one of the worst experiences anyone can go through, but some simple steps will greatly reduce your risk while you work from home. Be cautious with your electrical cords, set up your heating system safely, and plan in advance for an emergency. If you have any concerns about fire hazards in your home, speak with a fire protection services agency to determine the best course of action.