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Safe at Home

Published on: 2/13/2013 4:19 PM

​Most fatal fires are home fires.  Take a tour of your home and check how safe your household is from fire.

  • Each year, fire kills more Americans than all the major natural emergencies combined, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
  • Approximately 5,500 people die in fires in this country annually, including about 100 firefighters; and another 30,000 civilians are injured.
  • Senior citizens are at the highest risk of being killed in a fire -- more than double the average population.
  • People under age 19 account for 25% of the annual fire deaths.
  • About 25% of the fires that kill young children are started by children playing with matches.
  • Careless smoking is the leading cause of residential fire deaths.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of apartment fires and the second most frequent cause of single-family residential fires.
  • A working smoking detector doubles a person's chance of surviving a fire.
  • About 64% of residential fire deaths occur in the 18% of U.S. households with no smoke detectors.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and near every sleeping area.
  • Test your smoke detectors once a month by pushing the “test” button.
  • Replace batteries once a year (or sooner if an alarm “chirps” indicating the battery is low).
  • Vacuum smoke detectors to remove dust.
  • Never paint smoke detectors.
  • Replace smoke detectors after 10 years.
FIRE SPRINKLERS--Consider installing automatic fire sprinklers in your home.  They control fires in less time than it takes for the fire department to arrive.
  • Install your fire extinguisher (5lb, A-B-C type) on a wall away from your stove, near a door, and out of children’s reach.
  • Get fire department training on how to use it.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers once a month.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep a whistle in each bedroom to awaken household members in case of fire.
  • Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Have a collapsible ladder on each upper floor of your house.  If you must use an escape ladder, be sure everyone knows how to use it.
  • Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet after escaping.
  • Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Once you are out, stay out!
  • Stay low to the ground.
  • Feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand. If it is hot, do not open the door. Find another way out.
  • If you see smoke in your first escape route, use your second way out.
  • 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.
  • Replace or service any appliance that shows warning signs (ex:  shock, too hot, smoke, smell, etc…).
  • Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Keep portable and other space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
  • Turn space heaters off before you go to bed or leave home.
  • Closely supervise children and pets around all heating equipment.
  • Never replace a fuse or circuit breaker with one that exceeds the circuit’s amperage rating.
  •  Never replace a fuse with a penny or other conductive material.
  • Burn candles inside a one foot “circle of safety” free from anything that could come in contact.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended.
  • Keep all matches, lighters and candles out of reach of children.
  • Don’t allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
  • Place candles where they cannot be tampered with or knocked over by children and pets.
  • Place candles in sturdy non-combustible holders.
  • Keep candles away from drafts and vents.
  • Always trim candle wicks to ¼” before lighting (this allows the candle to burn efficiently with a smaller flame).
  • Extinguish taper or pillar candles when they get within 2” of their holders.· Extinguish votive candles when the last ½” of wax begins to melt in their containers.
  • Never use or bring gasoline inside the home.  Store gasoline in an outside shed or garage.
  • Store gasoline in small quantities in safety cans labeled and approved for gasoline storage.  Store other flammable liquids in original, labeled containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Store flammable liquids far away from appliances, heaters, pilot lights, and other sources of heat or flame.
  • If someone in your household smokes, use large, deep, non-tip ashtrays.
  • Wet the contents of ashtrays before emptying.
  • Check your furniture for smoldering butts if someone has been smoking.
  • Keep the kitchen attended while cooking to ensure everything is under control.
  • Maintain the stovetop and oven clean and uncluttered to minimize fuel sources.
  • Leave the pan lid within easy reach to smother potential pan flames.
  • Have a sturdy screen on your fireplace to contain fires and keep sparks from flying into the room.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned hard wood in fireplaces and wood burning stoves to minimize buildup.
  • Have your chimney professionally inspect and cleaned annually.
  • Weatherproof outdoor receptacles.
  •  Protect outdoor receptacles with ground fault circuit interrupters.
(Attribution:  National Fire Association)