More than 3,500 Americans die every year from fires at home or at work. Many fires are caused by improper electrical connections, careless use of candles/smoking materials or storing flammable liquids or materials in the wrong locations. Fires are also caused by the improper use of electrical or kerosene space heaters. Many fires in the home start in the kitchen as a result of cooking or food preparation gone wrong.
Here are some easy things you can do to prevent fires in the home.
- Buy and install a smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the garage and basement. Check the batteries twice a year when the time changes in the fall and spring. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Buy and install a carbon monoxide detector near any heating device that burns fuel and on each floor of the home or business. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is a product of fuel burning. This can be a fireplace, kerosene space heater, gasoline generator, gas or charcoal grill, gas stove or wood stove. CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS.
- Buy an ABC-rated fire extinguisher for your home and have it ready in an easily accessible place.
- Don’t overload electrical circuits or extension cords. Don’t run cords under carpets, over nails, or in high traffic areas.
- If an appliance sparks, sputters, or creates a burning smell, shut it off and unplug it. Have it repaired or replaced.
- When using space heaters, keep everything at least three feet away from the heating unit. DO NOT PLUG A SPACE HEATER INTO AN EXTENSION CORD.
- Keep fires in the fireplace. Use fireplace screens and have your chimney cleaned at least once a year.
- Dispose of fireplace/cooking grill ash/coals/waste in a fire-proof container with a lid.
- Make sure that your dryer vent is free of lint build-ups. Clean your dryer vent pipe regularly.
- If your electrical power goes out and you use a generator, keep the generator outdoors and away from windows and doors. Do not operate a generator in a garage or other confined area.
- Keep matches, lighters, and smoking materials away from children.
- Purchase a fireproof safe or lockbox for your home for valuables and important documents.
Make a plan to escape a fire in your home and practice it.
- When escaping from a fire, stay low to the floor.
- Never open doors that are hot to the touch.
- Select a meeting location near your home. Agree that once you’re out of the house, you’ll stay at the meeting location.
- Teach children about crawling under the smoke to escape a fire.
IN CASE OF FIRE
- If you suspect a fire, call 911 immediately. Don’t investigate on your own.
- Seconds can mean the difference between life and death when a fire starts. Get out as soon as possible.
- Keep bedroom doors closed while sleeping. If you think there is a fire, feel the door/doorknob for heat before opening.
- Make sure every sleeping room has two means of escape in the event of a fire. Make sure windows can be easily opened in case of fire.
- If sleeping rooms are on the second floor, consider placing portable escape ladders in those rooms. Practice using the ladders.
- Once you and your family have escaped a burning building, everyone must meet at the outside meeting place. NEVER re-enter a burning building.
- When firefighters arrive, tell them about any pets or unusual items/hidden places in your home.