Fire Hazards: Appliances

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Next in our series of common fire hazards is the appliances in your home. Did you know that heating equipment (like space heaters) are involved in 1 of every 6 home fires? Appliances are safe when used correctly, so here are some fire hazards to look out for:

  • Keep everything that gives off heat at least 3 feet away from flammable materials or items.
  • Don’t plug more than one heating appliance into the same outlet.
  • Keep portable gas generators outside and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you have a fireplace, be sure to have your chimney checked and cleaned once a year by a professional.
  • Don’t leave fires (or candles) burning or heating appliances plugged in while you’re asleep, in another room, or when you’re not home.
  • Clean the lint screen every time you use your dryer. Dryers are responsible for about 9 out of 10 appliance fires.

Holiday Fires

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Residential fires during the holiday season are more common and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. To keep your home, family, and visitors safe, here are the fire dangers to watch for this holiday season.



According to the USFA, cooking is the top cause of holiday fires. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. With the holidays, families visit and things get busy. Understandably, it’s easy to get distracted but make sure if you are cooking something on the stove that you don’t leave the kitchen and keep a fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires nearby.



According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. Fires that start by candles are four times higher during December than during other months of the year. If you light candles for the holidays, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Make sure the candle is on a sturdy base and never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. 


If you prefer candles because of the light, you can try using flameless LED candles instead. If you like candles for the scents, you can try use a candle warmer with wax. Both of these option will allow you to not worry about any flames.


Christmas Trees

According to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, it takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames. Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA said “They make turpentine out of pine trees. A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.” To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. Keep your tree away from heat sources and take it down after the holidays because all trees will start to dry out after about four weeks. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.


Decorative Lights

Inspect string lights and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor and outdoor use. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples which can damage the wiring and increase risk of fire.


Kids Playing with Matches

The number of fires and deaths caused by children playing with fire increases significantly during the holidays. From January to March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire and in December, that percentage doubles, the USFA reports. So you’ll want to keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach.



Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. You’ll want to screen the fireplace while it is lit and never use flammable liquids to start the fire. Only burn seasoned wood in your fireplace–no wrapping paper. 

The holidays are an amazing time filled with love and joy so you’ll want to keep your family safe. By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of fires and make great memories with your loved ones.

Fire Hazards: In the Kitchen

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Fires are common and can start at any time. Do you know the different fire hazards and things to watch for in your home? In our next few blog posts, we will cover fire hazards that you will want to watch for.


Most residential fires start in the kitchen, while cooking. The following things should help prevent kitchen fires:


  • Be sure to stay in the kitchen when cooking, grilling, or frying anything.

  • Don’t have curtains, paper towels dispensers, or towel racks sitting too close to the burners.

  • If you don’t have a built-in microwave, make sure that there is no clutter around it and that the vents are not covered.

  • Have a fire extinguisher close and within easy reach in case of a fire.

  • Don’t put water on a grease fire if you don’t have an extinguisher! If a fire starts in a pan, then cover the pan with a lid to suffocate the flames.

Grease Fires Part 2

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Preventing Grease Fires

Now that you know what a grease fire is and how to put it out, you may be wondering how to prevent a one. One good tip is to be mindful of when a grease fire may occur such as holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. But here are some extra precautions you should follow to prevent a grease fire.

  1. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

  2. Be alert and do not use the stove or stovetop if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol.

  3. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.

  4. Remove as much moisture as possible from food before putting it in hot oil. Do not put frozen foods into hot grease.

  5. Keep the grease at the recommended temperature. If you see any smoke of the oil smells, it is an indication that it is too hot. Immediately turn off the burner to let it cool down.

  6. Heat the oil slowly.

  7. Add food gently to prevent splatter.

  8. Keep a lid near the pan you’re cooking with so that it is accessible if a fire starts.

  9. Always keep children away from the stove while cooking.


If you haven’t read our other post about what to do if you have a grease fire, you can access the article here.  Just remember to be aware of your surroundings and on guard while you are cooking so you can act quickly if a fire starts.

Teaching Children about Fire Safety

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

What should you teach your children about fire safety? It may be easiest to teach them to never play with fire, but here are some other important things you can teach them:

  1. Matches and lighters are not toys.

  2. Don’t play with electrical cords or stick anything in an electrical socket.

  3. Don’t put anything over a lamp. Thing like blankets or towels could catch fire.

  4. If they hear the fire alarm, to get out of the house and to meet you at the designated spot immediately. Teach them “Don’t hide, get outside.” Lots of children will want to come find you, so be sure they know to not look for you and to leave the house and go to the meeting spot.

  5. If they or their clothes are on fire, to stop, drop, and roll.

  6. Teach them “fall and crawl” to protect themselves from breathing too much smoke.

  7. Teach them to check the door to see if it is hot. If it is, have them use a different escape route because there is probably on the other side and they should not open the door.

  8. Make sure they understand to call 911 if there is a fire and they need help, after they get outside.


Depending on how old your child is, will decide how much information you give them but it is important that they understand that fire is dangerous. Once you have a fire escape plan, you can make it a game for your kids and time them to see if they can beat their previous time. This will help them practice and so they can do it quickly when it matters.

Grease Fires Part 1

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

What is a grease fire and what do I do to put it out?

One of the most common types of household fires are grease fires. Cooking causes 160,000 home structure fires annually and two-thirds started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials, often ignited by grease. What’s the difference between a grease fire and an apartment fire?

Thirty seconds.

P/C State Farm

It only takes 30 seconds for a grease fire to get out of control beyond the point of being put out with a fire extinguisher. Because there is such a short amount of time for you to act and put out a grease fire, you’ll want to know exactly what to do and what not to do so you can react quickly.

If a grease fire starts:

  1. Cover the flames with a metal lid or cookie sheet. Leave the cover on until it has cooled.

  2. Turn off the heat source.

  3. If it’s small and manageable, pour baking soda or salt on it to smother the fire. (Do not use similar items such as flour or baking powder as they are not the same chemical makeup and will make the fire worse.)

  4. As a last resort, spray the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher.

  5. Do not try to extinguish the fire with water. (Because water and oil don’t mix, it splashes the grease around and often makes things worse.)

  6. Do not attempt to move the pot or pan outside.

  7. If your cabinets are on fire, get out and call 911.


What do I teach my kids about what to do if there is a fire?

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Teaching children what to do in the case of a fire is important so they can be safe and know how they can get out of the house or apartment. If you have younger children and infants, designate someone to get them out safely. You’ll also want to have a back up plan for small children just in case the primary person is overcome by smoke and can’t reach them.


For children that are old enough to get out safely, teach them…

  1. What a fire alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.

  2. Your fire escape plan. Make sure they know two exits out of every room.

  3. To “get low and go” so they don’t breathe a lot of smoke.

  4. To feel the door, door knobs, and cracks to see if they are too hot.

  5. Where they should meet you outside of your house.

  6. If they can’t get out, to cover the door cracks and vents and to signal out of their window with a flashlight or something white.


Once you have a fire escape plan, be sure to practice it with your children. You can make it a fun activity and time them and try to get faster and faster each time. You’ll want your kids to know what to do so they can do it quickly because fire is fast. In just two minutes, a fire can be life-threatening. Review what to do with your family often. For example, it can be a quick activity that you do on the first Sunday of each month to make sure everyone still remembers what to do and where to meet. And don’t forget to make new plans if you move into a new house or if it is necessary for any other reason.

Going on a vacation this summer? Here are some tips to keep your home from becoming a target.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

You’re a few weeks out from the family vacation that you’ve been waiting for for almost a year. The flights, hotels, and rentals are all booked and itinerary planned out. Your sweet poodle will be staying at a friends house and will be well taken care of. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need to pack still. There is much to do when planning a vacation and making sure you have the right safeguards prepped for your home is just as important as all the other things on your checklist. But what should you do to keep your home from becoming a target to burglars? Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.


  1. Never give the impression that you are gone.

    1. Have timers on your lights that have them turn on and off at normal times in during the day/evening.

    2. Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway.

    3. Stop your mail and packages or have someone pick them up for you.

    4. Keep your lawn mowed.

  2. Resist the urge to post about your trip on social media

    1. Don’t post about your upcoming trip on social media sites where people can see that you will be gone.

    2. Don’t post your pictures until your home from your vacation or go live while you are on vacation.

  3. Double and triple check

    1. Before you leave, make sure you personally check each lock and window to make sure it is locked. Be sure that even the door that leads into your house from the garage is locked.

    2. If you are leaving a car in the driveway, be sure to remove the garage door opener.

  4. Have a security system and make sure it is on

    1. If you don’t have a security system, now is the time! People without a security system are 300% more likely to be robbed. Your chances could be higher if your house shows signs that you are gone.

    2. Make sure the system is on! In 2010, there was a scandal of a cruise planner and her husband robbing homes of people that were gone on a cruise. They said that some of the homes they robbed had a security system that just wasn’t on. If you have one, make sure you use it!

Now you can have a great, stress-free time on your vacation knowing that your house and belongings will be safe. Bon Voyage!


Your Home Can Be Your First Line of Defense Against Rising Crime in Portland

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

As crime is rising in the Portland area, let your home be the first line of defense against criminals. With so many different options for security systems, you can customize your system to meet the needs of your home and family. There are systems that range from simple motion detectors, to full cameras that can be used at each entrance of your home to help ward off potential burglars.

There have been too many cases of break-ins lately all over Portland, some even armed home invasions. Because of this there are many ways you can protect your home and family from intruders with your home security system. Security systems have become a huge help to police officers when they investigate burglaries. Home and business security cameras can help identify the perpetrators and also give the police things like license plate numbers, car make and models, clothing clues, the gender of the perpetrator, an idea of items stolen, and many others. A video recording of a robbery or attempted robbery can also lead to a more solid case and conviction for law enforcement.

If a burglar can see cameras or a sign in your front yard with your security company’s name and logo on it, they are less likely to break into your home. Since many burglaries happen during the daytime, having your cameras be monitored is an even more efficient way to ensure that your home does not fall prey to intruders.  A monitored system means that if there are any signs that your home or business are being broken into the monitoring company can send out an alert to first responders in real time instead of waiting to file the report after your things have been stolen.

If your home or business has a smart security system you can feel secure knowing you can monitor everything from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Going out of town with peace of mind has never been easier. The combination of a monitored security system, signs with your security company’s name and logo, and visible outside security cameras will make your home much too risky for burglars.

5 Handy Fire Prevention Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

5 Handy Fire Prevention Tips Every Homeowner Should Know


Fire prevention and fire safety practices are necessary to reduce the potential dangers of fires. According to the U.S fire administration, the number of fires and fire-related deaths and injuries has drastically reduced over the past decade. However, this does not mean that the general public should be lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to fire prevention. It instead means that they should continue to remain vigilant in order to make sure that these numbers continue to go down.


The threat of fire can is ever present in the home so it is extremely important for homeowners to pay close attention at all times. Fires can occur in the summer or in the winter, as such, constant vigilance is paramount. Homeowners should make sure that they are doing all they can to prevent fires within their homes and here are some handy ways they can do that:


  1. Regularly Check Smoke Alarms


It is probably unlikely that your home or apartment does not have smoke alarms, but in case you’re reading this and you do not have smoke alarms make sure that you invest in some. Smoke alarms are an invaluable asset to have in the home. If you do have smoke detectors, then perform regular maintenance checks to make sure that they are in working order. It is important to change the batteries of your smoke detector at least once a year (you can definitely change it more times if you like). Investing in the proper alarms for your home will save you money in the long run.


In addition to this, make sure that your smoke alarms are well placed around your home to maximize their use. Be certain that there is a smoke alarm within every sleeping area or within close proximity to one, also place one in general areas like living rooms and basements. Homeowners should also make sure that they change their smoke alarm within ten years of the manufacturing date.


  1. Always Have A Fire Extinguisher on Hand


The importance of a fire extinguisher within the home cannot be overstated. There are many fires that can start in places like the kitchen, as such; it is beneficial for homeowners to have fire extinguishers placed within their home in advantageous locations to make sure that they are close by in times of need. It is also important for homeowners to be aware of how to store and use fire extinguishers. It is best to have a portable fire extinguisher within the kitchen of your home, by the fireplace, near the grill and one near the heating unit of your home.  These are some of the locations that are most prone to fires so they are the places with the most need for extinguishers.


  1. Do Not Overload Your Power Outlets


Overloaded power outlets are a leading cause of fires within the home each year in the United States. If a power outlet is overloaded, there is a very high chance that you will start an electrical fire. If the power outlet has only two ports, make sure that there are only two appliances plugged into it. In the event that you plug an extension outlet into it, make sure that you are not powering devices with high usage rates at the same time.


If you do happen to start an electrical fire, make sure that you use a fire extinguisher to put it out or immediately dial 9-1-1. Some people are quick to throw water on a fire in order to douse it, but this will backfire on an electrical fire and only make the situation much more dangerous than it already is.


  1. Do Not Place Flammable Materials Near Open Flames


I’m sure most people will read this and think that this point is something everyone already knows. However, there are many home fires started simply because someone left a candle to close to a curtain. Flammable objects should not be left near open flames. The potential for these accidents is higher in the kitchen and bedrooms than in any other parts of the home. It is important for flammable items and materials to be kept at least 3 feet away from open flames, or to be kept in another room altogether.


  1. Establish and Practice Fire Safety Plans


Fire safety plans play a big role in preventing fires and keeping your family safe. Not only does it give you the chance to practice the fire safety tips discussed above, but it helps you figure out if there are any vulnerabilities in your home that would hinder your safe escape in the face of a fire. When crafting a fire safety plan, make sure that you map out all exit points and work out a rendezvous point. It is also advisable to hire a locksmith to asses the locks in your and make sure that they will not compromise your safety in the event of an evacuation. It might be hard to think about you and your family being stuck in the midst of a fire but it is a possibility and you should definitely be prepared for it.




As was stated above, fires are not uncanny and it is important to make sure that you are working to prevent the possibility of this ever happening to you. Make sure that you avidly employ some of the fire prevention tips listed above and that you practice overall safety so that you are not found wanting and in danger. Here are some additional tips homeowners can also make use of:

  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Make sure matches and flammable materials are kept out of reach of children.
  • Do not leave flammable materials near heaters, even though there is no open flame.
  • Make sure that you are using the appropriate fire extinguisher before you spray it.
  • Be aware of emergency phone numbers and contact information so that you are not left trapped within your home.
  • If you have children at home, make sure that they are fully aware of the fire safety plan and all that goes into it so that they do not compromise your security.


Author Bio


Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.