The facts are alarming. Every year almost 4,000 people die in fire-related deaths in the United States! On average 60 firefighters die every year in the line of duty. Approximately 18,300 people are injured every year in fires. The most disturbing fact is that most of these fires could have been prevented by practicing simple fire safety.
Fire prevention isn’t “rocket science.” Fire safety is using common sense and remembering to do some basic measures to protect your home and family.
Here are a dozen tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Approximately two-thirds of all fire deaths happen in homes where there are no fire alarms. Be sure to install smoke alarms and CO alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change batteries routinely when you change your clocks forward or back twice a year. Smoke alarms expire after ten years, so be sure to install a new one if your alarm is more than ten years old.
- Candles cause many fires each year. Be sure to keep candles on a fire-resistant surface and make sure someone is responsible for monitoring them and blowing them out. Better still, use flameless, battery candles instead, which today are just as pretty, and much safer.
- If you use a space heater, be sure to keep it at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Always closely supervise children and pets when the heater is turned on. Turn off space heaters when you leave the room.
- Avoid plugging several appliance cords into the same electrical socket.
- When cooking, limit distractions and don’t leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended. Keep dish towels or wooden spoons away from the stovetop. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and learn how and when to use it properly. Grease fires should be smothered, rather than sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
- Protect your fireplace with a sturdy screen and only burn seasoned hardwood such as oak, ash, or maple. Remember that a glass screen takes a long time to cool down. If you have small children at home, use a safety gate around a fireplace or wood stove.
In a fire, seconds count!
- Draw a map of your home and mark two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit. Practice a home fire drill at least twice a year. Conduct one day and one night drill.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- Fire can suck all the oxygen out of room and replace it with toxic smoke and gasses. Be sure to teach everyone to “get low and go” if there is smoke in the home. Practice feeling the door, doorknob and cracks around the door with the back of your hand to see if they are too hot.
- The last person out should close doors to help slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Select a place to meet outside that is a safe distance away from the home.
- Once out, stay out! Never go back inside a burning building. Call 9-1-1 after you are safely out.
- If you are stuck inside, cover the areas where smoke may get in. Cover vents and cracks around the door and call 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. Signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or flashlight.