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HOME FIRE SAFETY

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Fire Safety

Deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States and the third leading cause of fatal home injury

Many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable.
Here is what you need to know…

Smoke Alarms

A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death. Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home. But no matter where or how, having a smoke alarm is the first key step towards your family’s safety.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.

A smoke alarm should be installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When installing a smoke alarm, many factors influence where you will place it, including how many are to be installed. Consider placing alarms along your escape path to assist in egress in limited visibility conditions. In general you should place alarms in the center of a ceiling or, if you place them on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.

Locations of alarms in a house

  • Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring.
  • Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.
  • Do not place a smoke alarm too close to a kitchen appliance or fireplace, as this may result in nuisance alarms.
  • Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Smoke alarms don’t last forever.
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan, because working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan will increase your protection in case of a fire.

Make an Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember – time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

  • Practice escape plans every month.
  • Plan two ways out of each room.
  • Immediately leave your home when a fire occurs.
  • Never open doors that are hot to the touch.
  • Designate a meeting location away from your home.
  • Once you’re out, stay out!

Practice Fire Safety

More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 20,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of practicing and planning ahead.

Cooking

  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fire injuries.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires.
  • Between 1999 and 2002, cooking fires caused about 290 deaths and 4,380 injuries each year.

Cooking fires can be prevented.

  • When cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the stove.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep towels, pot holders, curtains, and paper products away from the stove.
  • Keep the stove and oven clean to prevent grease build-up.
  • If a cooking fire starts, smother it with a pot lid. Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Heat oil slowly to avoid splattering. Be extra careful when frying foods.
  • When cooking in a microwave, do not use metal objects or aluminum foil (they could start a fire).
  • If a fire starts in the microwave, keep the door closed.
  • Check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave your house to be sure all appliances are turned off.
  • Get a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Make a fire escape plan and practice it monthly.

Smoking

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable home fire deaths.
  • In 2003, an estimated 25,600 structure fires in the United States were caused by smoking materials. These fires caused 760 deaths and 1,520 injuries.
  • About 1 out of 4 fire deaths in 2003 was caused by smoking materials.
  • The most common things first ignited in deadly smoking-related home fire deaths were mattresses and bedding, upholstered furniture, and floor covering.
  • More fatal smoking fires start in living rooms, family rooms, and dens than in bedrooms.

Fires started by smoking can be prevented.

  • If you smoke, think about quitting.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Put out all cigarettes, cigars, or pipes before you leave the room.
  • Use deep ashtrays. Don’t put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs.
  • Soak ashes in water before dumping them in the trash.
  • If you feel sleepy while reading or watching TV, put your cigarette out.
  • Close the matchbook before striking a match. Set cigarette lighters to low.
  • Keep matches and lighters locked up, away from children. Teach children to tell you if they find a lighter or matches.
  • If smokers have visited, check floors and seat cushions for butts and ashes that may have been dropped.

Alternative Heating

  • More than one third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves, and other fuel-burning appliances to heat their homes.
  • Nearly 36,000 fires and 250 deaths occur each year from portable heaters, fireplaces, and chimneys.
  • Heating is the second leading cause of home fires.
  • Fireplaces and chimneys are the number one source of home heating equipment fires.
  • Portable space heaters are the top cause of fire deaths from home heating equipment.

Fires started by alternative heating equipment can be prevented.

Space heaters

  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn-including furniture, blankets, curtains, and paper products.
  • Choose space heaters that turn off automatically if they tip over.
  • Never use a space heater to dry clothing.
  • Turn off space heaters before you go to bed.
  • In a kerosene heater, use only the proper fuel. Check with the local fire department to make sure kerosene heaters are allowed in your community.
  • Refuel a heater outside, after it has cooled.

Fireplaces and wood stoves

  • Have a service person inspect and clean your chimney or wood stove each year.
  • Use a metal or glass fireplace screen to keep sparks from hitting nearby carpets or furniture.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open.
  • Keep kindling, paper, and décor away from fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • Never use gas or lighter fluid to start a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Burn only seasoned hardwood. Burning soft, moist wood causes a lot of creosote build-up and can cause a chimney fire.
  • Don’t burn cardboard boxes, newspaper, or trash. They burn too hot and can cause a chimney fire.
  • Be sure vent pipes extend at least 3 feet above the roof.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to check flue temperatures.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for installing and maintaining fireplaces and wood stoves.

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