Fire Safety and prevention are important for families to understand and practice. Most fire deaths occur in the home and many could have been prevented. As smoke detectors and other fire prevention measures have become more common in recent years, the deaths and injuries from fire have decreased significantly.
To understand the importance of fire prevention one must become aware of the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly and you have no time to grab valuables or make a telephone call. In as little as two minutes, the conditions within a room on fire can become untenable and life threatening. In addition to heat, fires also produce toxic gases, which can make you disoriented.
The following steps can be taken to protect your family from the dangers of fire:
- Install working smoke detectors on every level of your home: outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairways or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near the kitchen.
- Test your smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
- With your family create an escape plan, two escape routes from every room in the house.
- Practice your escape plan. Remember EDITH - Exit Drills In The Home
- Establish a common place for the family to meet after escape. Once you are out - Stay out.
- Clear out storage area. Don't let trash (such as old newspapers and magazines) accumulate.
- Take extra care with cigarettes and other smoking materials.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or three appliances, obtain a UL listed approved unit with built in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
- Have home heating devices inspected regularly. Many fires in the home are started by faulty furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts and chimneys with creosote build-up. Make sure your home heating source is clean and in working order. Call heating professional for help.
- Care should be exercised when alternate heating sources, such as wood, coal and kerosene burning stoves are used.
Know where your gas meter and central electric panels are located so that you can shut them off during an emergency.
- If you live in wildland areas, on hillsides, in valleys, or near a woodland area where flammable vegetation is abundant your house could be a target for wildfire. Learn how to protect your home.
- If you are building a house in or near a woodland area, make sure that the builders or architects are aware of wildfire consideration.
- Call your local fire department and request a home fire safety inspection.
FIRE SAFETY AND PREVENTION
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF FIRE
Call 911 the instant a fire is discovered. Once the fire department has been dispatched, you may attempt to control a small fire with water or a fire extinguisher if you can safely do so. If the fire begins to get larger or becomes out of control, withdraw from the fire fighting effort and evacuate the building immediately.
- Never use water on an electrical fire. Only use a fire extinguisher that has been rated for electrical or "Class C" fires.
- Oil and grease fires occur primarily in the kitchen. Attempt to smother flames with baking soda or salt or place a lid over the flame if it is burning in a pan.
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn with more intensity.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed. If you wake up to the sound of a smoke detector, feel the door before you open it.
- If the door is cool, leave immediately. Be prepared to bend or crawl; smoke and heat rise, and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
- If the door is hot, escape through another exit. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside your window to alert fire fighters to your presence.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A FIRE
- If you are a homeowner, see that any holes in your home are covered against the rain and that entry to your home can be secured. The fire department can assist you with these tasks.
- If you are a tenant, contact the landlord. It is the property owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site. Secure your personal belongings either within the building or by moving them to another location.
- Do not enter a fire-damaged building unless authorities have given you permission.
- Have an electrician check your household wiring before the current is turned back on. Do not attempt to reconnect any utilities yourself.
Should you have any questions or require additional information, you should contact your local fire department.