Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die in fires, more than 25,000 are injured in fires, and more than 100 firefighters are killed while on duty. Eighty-three percent of all civilian fire deaths occurred in residences and many of these fires could have been prevented.
Fire Prevention Week is October 7-13, 2018 so we thought we’d share some fire prevention tips with you here and on our Facebook Page.
In order to protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire.
- Fire is FAST. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is DARK. Fire produces gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
- Fire is HOT. Heat and smoke from the fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs.
During a fire, an early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Learn what else to do before, during and after a fire, to keep your loved ones safe!
BEFORE A FIRE – PREVENTION
SMOKE ALARMS AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
- Install smoke alarms. Properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by half.
- Place smoke alarms on every level of your home.
- Install a working carbon monoxide detector in the common area of the bedrooms.
- Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year.
- Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Always wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook.
- Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames.
- Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove.
- Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Place space heaters at least three feet away from flammable/combustible materials.
- Use only the type of fuel designated for your space heater.
MATCHES/LIGHTERS AND SMOKING
- Keep matches/lighters away from children.
- Smoke outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
- Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes the fire burn hotter and faster.
- Be alert – don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.
- Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
- Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high traffic areas.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
- Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and designate a family meeting spot outside of your home.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
- Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
- Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Teach family members to stay low to the floor, where the air is safer when escaping from a fire.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
IF A FIRE STARTS
DO NOT PANIC
- Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher.
- Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1. Do not assume someone else already called the fire department.
- Yell “Fire!” several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
- If your clothes catch on fire, you should immediately stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.
ESCAPE THE FIRE
- Check closed doors with the back of your hand to feel for heat before you open.
- If the door is hot do not open it. Find a second way out, such as a window. If you cannot escape through a window, hang a white sheet outside the window to alert firefighters to your presence.
- Stuff the cracks around the door with wet towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep the smoke out.
- If there is a phone in the room where you are trapped, call the fire department again and tell them exactly where you are.
- If the door is cold, slowly open it and ensure that fire and/or smoke is not blocking your escape route.
- If your escape route is blocked, shut the door and use another route.
- If clear, leave immediately and close the door behind you. Be prepared to crawl.
- Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and call 9-1-1. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.
RECOVER AFTER A FIRE
- Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.
- Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection until emergency units arrive.
- Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building.
- Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter.
- Let friends and family know you’re safe.
- Injured people and pets should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food, and clothing.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting an inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until an inventory is made.
- Try to locate valuable documents and records.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
LOOK. LISTEN. LEARN. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.TM For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association.