Learn How to Keep Your Family and Home Safe from Fires
The fire department works hard to save lives and property, but really fire safety begins at home!
The federal government has a website at FireSafety.gov which is set up to encourage people to take steps to reduce the number of deaths and the amount of property damage caused by house fires. The statistics are grim. Every year in the United States there are over 300,000 house fires. About 3,000 people die in those fires each year. However, there are ways that you can protect yourself and your family from becoming a victim.
Following these suggestions will help tremendously. In addition, you may want to use this quick link to smoke detectors from Amazon. Many of them are less than $10 and they could save your life. What a deal!
PRACTICE FIRE SAFETY IN YOUR KITCHEN
The best way to be safe from fire danger is to avoid having a fire in the first place. Although some fires happen through no fault of the residents, other fires can be prevented by practicing caution. For example, do not leave food cooking on the stove while you are away. Unattended cooking causes the majority of fires in the kitchen, according to FireSafety.gov. If you do need to leave the kitchen, set an alarm that will remind you to return quickly. Keep your children away from hot stoves. Do not wear loose clothing or long, loose sleeves while cooking, as they may catch on fire. Turn the handles of your pots toward the back of the stove. And, don't store other items around the stove in such a way that you have to reach over hot pots in order to reach commonly used items.
PREVENT FIRES IN YOUR HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM
After kitchen fires, the second most common cause of residential fires is the heating and air conditioning system. Have your system checked once a year. Have someone inspect your fireplace chimney and sweep it once a year. Only use portable electric heaters during the day, not while you are sleeping. If you do use one, make sure the one you buy meets safety standards and follow the directions carefully.
AVOID ELECTRICAL FIRES FROM WIRING AND LIGHTING
Electrical fires can be caused by faulty outlets, old wiring, and extension cords. Never use an old, stiff, cracked electrical cord, whether it is attached to an appliance, or is part of an extension cord. Inspect your cords periodically to make sure that none of them have become worn or frayed. Have extra outlets installed at your house if you need them. This will reduce the need for extension cords.
Do not place items that burn easily near light bulbs, especially halogen bulbs which get extremely hot. Many college dorms actually forbid students to use certain types of lamps in the dorm rooms. NEVER place clothes or towels on top of a lampshade. Do not use bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended when you buy the lamp. This can cause the light to overheat and start a fire.
KEEP CIGARETTES, MATCHES AND LIGHTERS IN A SAFE LOCATION
Put matches and lighters in a location where children cannot reach them. Be extremely cautious when smoking or using candles. If you fall asleep smoking, you can set your bed or sofa on fire. If you fall asleep with a lit candle, you could set items such as drapes, clothing, or papers that are lying near the candle on fire.
INSTALL SMOKE ALARMS
Perhaps the most important action you can take is to install several smoke alarms in your home. It is believed that in 2/3 of the cases where there is a fatality from a house fire, the home did not have a working smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are so important in saving lives, that it is highly recommended that you install several of them. Remember, you can use this direct Amazon link to order smoke detectors online.
There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home, with additional ones inside and outside the bedrooms. The alarms should be tested frequently, and the batteries should be changed twice a year.
KEEP FIRE EXTINGUISHERS HANDY
Buy a few fire extinguishers and keep them in places where they will be easily reached in the event of a small fire. For example, keep one in the kitchen, another in the garage or basement. If you have never used a fire extinguisher, you might buy a cheap one to practice with. You do not want to waste a lot of time reading the instructions if you have a grease fire in the kitchen!
PLAN AN ESCAPE ROUTE IN THE EVENT OF A FIRE
It is important that everyone in your family knows how to escape in the event of a fire. If the home has two or more stories, everyone should have a plan for escaping through a window, in the event that the fire is on a floor below them. If the doorknob on a bedroom door is extremely hot to touch, do not open it. Instead, escape through a window. If you must exit through a smoke filled part of house, practice crawling or staying low. The worst smoke and toxic gases will be near the ceiling. The lower you stay, the clearer and better the air will be. Once you leave the house, tell everyone to STAY OUT! Many fatalities occur when people try to return to the house. Let the firemen enter, when they arrive.
HAVE A FIRE DRILL
Your family should have a fire drill about once or twice a year. Practice at least two ways you would escape from every room in the house. Select a meeting place near the house where everyone knows to go in an emergency. Our family had a tree near the street where we told our children to go if they ever had to escape the house in a hurry. Then, we knew that we would not be looking for children who were hiding in the backyard or some other location. In a real emergency, one of your family members would go to a neighbor's house to call the fire department. Do not waste time calling from inside a burning home.
If you follow all of the above steps, you will have greatly reduced the likelihood that you will ever have a house fire and, if you do, you and the members of your family will be much more likely to survive.
Read more about smoke alarms and other safety tips in the articles listed below:
Statistical information from FireSafety.gov
Photo courtesy of photoxpress.com
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