More than 5,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 21,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. Fire safety and survival begin with everyone in your household being prepared. Follow these safety measures to reduce the chance of fire in your home:
Develop a fire escape plan for your family that identifies two exits out of every room and an established meeting place outside. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them and store them near the window. Make sure all windows open and are not painted shut.
- If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke to your exit.
- If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is warm, use your second way out. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never open doors that are hot!
- If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a bright-colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.
- Teach every family member to “Stop, Drop and Roll” if clothes catch fire.
- Once you are out, stay out! Do not re-enter the home. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.
- Practice makes perfect – hold a family fire drill at least twice each year.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in bedrooms, especially if doors are closed for sleeping, then test them monthly. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, vacuum it to keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Talk to your children about fire
Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, children set over 20,000 house fires every year. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Home Safety Tips
- Consider having a home fire sprinkler system installed in your new home, or when you remodel.
- Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, garage and workshop. Remember to use extinguishers on small fires only.
- Never leave burning candles unattended and do not allow children to keep candles or incense in their rooms.
- Always use stable, candle holders made of material that won’t catch fire, such as metal, glass, etc.
- Keep things that can burn away from your fireplace and keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace.
- Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet.
- Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before dumping them in the trash.
- Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
- Schedule an appointment with professionals to have chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves, central furnaces and space heaters inspected once a year and cleaned as often as necessary.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from things that can burn, such as curtains or stacks of newspaper, and always turn off heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Check all wires and cords for damage and cover all unused electrical outlets. Never overload circuits, extension cords and power strips. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
- Protect bedrooms by having arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) installed. Contact a professional electrician to handle this job.
- Use Appliances Wisely Always follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
- Never put synthetic fabrics, plastic, rubber or foam, because they retain heat. Clean lint screen before and after use. Dryers must be vented to outside and plugged into own outlet. Never leave home with the dryer on.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
- Always stay in the kitchen while cooking.
- When cooking, do not wear loose-fitting clothing, which can be ignited by hot burners or gas flames.
- Keep things that can burn, such as dishtowels, paper or plastic bags, and curtains at least three feet away from the range top.
- Know how to extinguish a small pan fire by sliding a lid over the flames.
Outside & In the Garage Tips
- Keep volatile chemicals, such as fertilizers and turpentine, in their original containers in a locked storage area separate from the home.
- Store gasoline in a garage or shed in a container approved for gasoline storage.
- Never bring or use gasoline indoors; and use it as a motor fuel only.
- Never leave barbecue grills unattended while in use.
- Keep grills at least three feet away from other objects, including the house and any shrubs or bushes.
- Be sure to get a burn permit before burning outdoors.