June was National Safety Month, so I'm a bit late, but fire safety is important no matter what month it is.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), barn fires are more common during the winter and summer months. Winter fires are often the result of heating equipment, but there are many common causes of summer barn fires including spontaneous combustion of newly-baled hay and lightning strikes.
Summer is a good time to check your list of fire safety precautions. Inspect your barn for the following problems:
1. No Smoking Allowed - hay, straw and dried-out manure are all flammable. Hang a No Smoking sign in your barn to let visitors know they shouldn't light up. No exceptions!
2. Don't allow debris to pile up in or around your barn. Clean up old wood and piles of dead brush and trash.
3. Store hay, straw and bedding in another building, not in your livestock barn.
4. Inspect the electrical wiring for worn spots or damage from rodents. Electrical wiring should be run through conduit for the highest level of safety. (By the way, is your barn insulated? If so, you might check to see if asbestos is present in the insulation. Asbestos was used for decades and can still be found in homes, schools, commercial and other buildings built prior to 1980. Exposure to asbestos can cause devastating diseases including mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. You can learn more about mesothelioma here.)
5. Fans are one of the leading causes of summer barn fires. House fans are not made to withstand the dust in a barn; dust can clog up the motor and cause a fire. Use a fan made for use in a barn (affiliate link) available at farm supply stores and at Amazon.
6. Cobwebs and dust are flammable and allow flames to spread rapidly from one end of the barn to another. Use an old broom to keep your beams and walls cobweb-free.
7. Check light bulbs in your barn. Don't allow them to collect dust and dirt. Keep light switches and outlets free of dust.
8. Keep a fire extinguisher in the barn and know how to use it.
9. Don't store flammables in the barn. Gasoline and gas-powered machinery are obvious, but how about those bottles of fly spray, cleaning solutions and other flammable materials? Find another place to store them.
10. Create a defensible space around your barn to slow down or stop the spread of fire. Trim tree branches so that they are at least ten feet from the roof and keep grass and brush trimmed within a thirty-foot perimeter of your structure.
While you're checking your fire safety list in the barn, apply these tips to your home as well! You probably don't store hay in your house, but the rest of these tips apply to homes and other structures too.
Do you have a fire safety policy? Please share with us in the comments below.
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
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