According to the National Fire Association, approximately 1,800 residential building fires are reported in the U.S each year, causing an estimated 2,635 deaths, 725 injuries, and $196 million in property damage. A fire may start from an unattended pot in the kitchen, an overloaded electrical circuit or an errant cigarette. You could find your living room ablaze because a child was playing with matches, or you could just have bad luck with a lightning strike. In order to protect yourself and your family, it’s important that you know how to prevent, prepare and what to do in the event of a fire.
- NEVER leave the kitchen unattended when frying, grilling or broiling food and make sure to turn the oven and stove off before leaving the house
- Wear close-fitting, short or short/rolled sleeves while cooking
- Do not cook when intoxicated, sleepy or drowsy due to medicine
- Keep potentially flammable material away from cooking appliances, like curtains, mitts, paper, plastics and towels
- Make sure children stay within a safe distance from the oven or stove
- Keep potentially flammable items at least 3 feet away from space heaters
- Unplug heaters when you shut them off , leave your home or go to bed
- Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters and never overfill them. Use heater in a well VENTILATED room.
- Never burn trash, paper, or green wood in your fireplace
- Use a large enough fireplace screen to prevent rolling logs and sparks from flying out
- Unplug appliances when not in use. Replace all frayed or damaged cords immediately and do not place near carpets, rugs or furniture
- Always plug appliances in the correct socket. If it’s a three-prong plug, ONLY use a three-slot outlet.
- Do not use extension cords in place of permanent wiring and do not overload them
- Immediately shut off and replace light switches that are hot to the touch or lights that flicker
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Never toss hot cigarette butts in the trash
- Don’t smoke in bed or if you are intoxicated, sleepy or drowsy due to medicine
- Don’t put ashtrays on top of upholstery furniture or leave cigarettes on them
- Never SMOKE in a house where an Oxygen tank is used. Oxygen is extremely flammable and even explosive when exposed to fire
- Teach your children about proper safety and fire prevention
- Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children, preferably in locked closets or drawers
- Never leave a child unattended near an open flame, stove or oven
- Be familiar with your building’s evacuation plan
- Know your exits
- Know where smoke alarms are
- Check whether your building is protected by an automatic sprinkler system
- Develop and practice your own individual escape plan
- Make sure everyone in your household knows at least TWO ways to escape out of every room
- Practice an escape plan at least twice a year
- Make sure you know where to meet outside
- Smoke alarms
- Check smoke alarms at least monthly by pressing the test button and listening to the alarm.
- Renters insurance
- Consider buying renter's insurance, which can cover your belongings if damaged in a fire. Also be sure to take an inventory of your most valuable items
What to do in case of a fire
- Stay low – Deadly smokes and poisonous gas rise, so stay low to the ground and crawl under the smoke toward an exit.
- Keep hot doors shut – Feel the doorknob. If it’s hot or smoke is coming through the door, leave by another exit. If it’s cool, open slowly and with a great deal of caution.
- Elevators are a no – We all know that elevators are a no no in the event of a fire, so find the nearest staircase and exit if possible
- If you cannot escape – Close the door and block smoke from entering by placing wet towels around any opening, cracks or vents. Stay near and open a window, call the fire department immediately and signal by using a bright colored cloth or flashlight.
- STOP DROP and ROLL – If you or your clothes are on fire, it’s vital that you remember those three words you were taught as a kid, STOP, DROP and ROLL. Stop immediately, drop to the floor and cover your face with your hands. Then roll back and forth until the fire goes out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.
- PASS - Remember the word PASS when using a fire extinguisher
- P - Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
- A - Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire
- S - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Find more information on how to keep you and your family safe from fire by using these additional resources.
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire#/About
National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/safety-in-the-home/escape-planning/escape-planning-in-tall-buildings