This Old House Billerica house project
The Billerica house project, which was damaged by a fire before the TOH crew renovated it in 1999.
The fire in the Silvas' house began near the basement heating system. But a fire can start anywhere in the house. Here's how to stop one before it starts: In the Kitchen (the most common site of home fires) 1) Never leave cooking food unattended. 2) When you're finished with appliances, turn them off and unplug them. 3) Store flammable items such as dishtowels, pot holders or wooden spoons away from stove and cooktop burners. 4) Keep pot handles inward, out of reach. Teach children to stay three feet away from the stove while you're cooking. 5) Have a large oven mitt and a lid handy to smother small pan fires. In case of a pan fire, carefully slide lid over flames and then turn off burner. Clean stove top after cooking to prevent grease fires. Throughout the House 1) Each year roughly 100,000 fires are started by curious kids with matches or lighters, so keep them out of reach, out of sight—preferably under lock and key. 2) During the winter, heating equipment is the number one cause of home fires and home fire deaths. Keep all combustibles such as newspapers, magazines or kindling at least three feet away from fireplaces, heating vents, space heaters or radiators. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, curtains, bedding or anything else that can burn. Turn them off before you go to sleep and whenever you leave the house. Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if needed. 3) Never smoke in bed or when drowsy. Douse butts with water before throwing them in the trash. Careless disposal of smoking materials is the leading cause of home fire deaths. 4) Make sure electrical cords aren't frayed or worn. Even if cords are in perfect condition, don't run them under rugs or behind draperies. 5) Have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home. A good model for the home is rated with the industry standard "2-A:10-B:C," which can be used on any small, containable fire. A portable extinguisher blasts for eight to ten seconds and is ineffective in putting out large or spreading fires. Only operate it six to ten feet away from flames and within clear reach of an exit. 6) Home fire sprinklers, working in combination with smoke detectors, can cut the risk of home fire death by 82%. In new construction, sprinklers cost 1 - 1 1/2 percent of the total building cost, about what you'd pay for new carpet. They can also be installed in existing homes.
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