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House fires due to clutter: How you can organize your home to keep your family safe

by respaced on May 30, 2011

News stories about house fires always catch my eye.

This is because at least a couple of times of month the reporter indicates that a house fire has caused massive damage or injury due to excessive clutter in the occupant’s home. The clutter keeps occupants trapped inside their burning home, while keeping firefighters stuck outside, or at least unable to access the part of the house where the victims are trapped. Here’s the most recent news story I read about this problem.

This got me to thinking that while I have often posted about getting organized for personal fulfillment and practical reasons, I have never posted about getting organized for safety reasons. So here are some ways you can organize your home to keep your family safe:

1. Make sure there is no clutter piled up in front of doors and windows. You should be able to completely open any door in your house without having to move anything out of the way. This also means all door knobs are accessible on doors. Don’t use door knobs as extra hangers.

2. Make sure there are ample paths (at least 3-feet wide) between all rooms. Do not allow clutter to spill into pathways, which could trip you up when trying to flee a smoke-filled room.

3. Keep 3 feet of space around all baseboard heaters and space heaters. Do not allow curtains to dangle down in front of heaters. Keep beds and bedding away from heaters, and do not allow stacks of paper to pile up around heaters.

4. Don’t cook with flammable items on the stove top such as plastic, towels, paper or aerosol cans. This might seem obvious to you, but we have the partially melted plastic pancake batter bowl to prove that it’s not obvious to everyone …

5. Don’t keep or use appliances with frayed or damaged cords.

6. Don’t keep oily rags in the garage. They can spontaneously combust. If you absolutely must keep some in the garage, keep them in a metal — not plastic — container with a lid.

Here are some more safety tips for preventing house fires from the Red Cross. What are your best home-organizing-for-safety tips? Please post them in the comments below. 

Picture of house fire courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Make It Happen Mama May 31, 2011 at 5:09 am

This is yet one more reason to add to our lists of why we are enforcing decluttering at both of our mom's houses this summer! My mom lives in Portland, so I may need to hire you if she won't listen to me!

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MaryJo @ reSPACEd May 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Yes, definitely! Even if you can't get her house completely organized, at least making it safer in the event of a fire will make a huge difference. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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