Protect Your Family and Home From the Dangers of Fire
Every year in October, when we celebrate Fire Prevention Week, we should review our home fire safety plans. Having such a plan is the way to protect our family and home. Since 1925, the week in October that contains the ninth day is proclaimed by the President of the United States to be National Fire Prevention Week. October 9 was chosen to commemorate and remember the Chicago Fire in 1911.
During this week, programs are usually planned in schools to educate children on the dangers of fire, how to react, and what to do in case of a fire in the school and also at home. Schools hold fire drills frequently during the school year to keep everyone alert to procedures to follow when a fire alarm sounds. Adults, too, participate in fire drills in their office buildings, plants, hospitals, etc.
Let's Talk About Some Home Fire Safety Tips
Make a Home Fire Evacuation Plan for Your Family
If you don’t already have a fire evacuation plan made for your family, then you need to make one TODAY. Draw a diagram of your house, and mark on it places to exit each room of the house. Walk through the house with the diagram, and talk to your family about how to exit each room. If an escape ladder is needed to exit the room then everyone should know where the ladder is and how to use it. Explain, too, that the air is better near the floor since the heated smoky air will rise. Also, if you plan to exit by a door, place your hand on it, and if it is hot, DO NOT OPEN IT since fire will probably be on the other side. Instead, use another exit from the room.
Special plans need to be made if you have babies and/or toddlers in your family, elderly family members, or someone who is disabled. Be sure to take into consideration how you will take them safely out of the house.
Also, when developing your evacuation plan, be sure to include how you will take your pets to safety.
Include in your evacuation plan a place for everyone to meet once they are outside of the house. Make sure to pick a spot that is away from the house, and tell everyone to stay there so they can be accounted for. And that once everyone is out of the house, they should not go back into the house for any reason.
Now that you have an evacuation plan, plan some family fire drills to practice. Like anything else, practice makes perfect and builds confidence. So, if a fire emergency happens at your house, then you and your family will be prepared.
Fire Home Safety Products That Every Home Should Have
Home Fire Extinguishers
There are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires. The following table from the U.S. Fire Administration identifies the types of extinguishers and the types of fires they should be used for.
“Types of Fire Extinguishers
Class A extinguishers put out fires in ordinary combustible materials such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper, and many plastics.
Class B extinguishers are used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, and oil-based paints.
Class C extinguishers are suitable for use on fires involving appliances, tools, or other equipment that is electrically energized or plugged in.
Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals and are often specific for the type of metal in question. These are typically found only in factories working with these metals.
Class K fire extinguishers are intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. These extinguishers are generally found in commercial kitchens, such as those found in restaurants, cafeterias, and caterers. Class K extinguishers are now finding their way into the residential market for use in kitchens.
There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers - such as those labeled "B-C" or "A-B-C" - that can be used on two or more of the above type fires.”
Fire extinguishers come in many sizes, too, so when shopping for an extinguisher, be sure to purchase a size that you can handle. Extinguishers need to be checked from time to time to make sure they are still fully charged and ready to be used.
Fire detectors are designed to alarm when a certain preset temperature is reached. These are not installed as commonly as smoke alarms in homes. When they are installed in a home, they are usually connected to a home security alarm system or a fire sprinkler system.
When you go shopping for a smoke alarm, you should know that there are two different types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization smoke alarms detect fires that are fast burning/flaming, while a photoelectric smoke alarm reacts to a smoldering fire. The following recommendation is from the National Fire Protection Association:
“For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be in homes. In addition to individual lionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available.”
So, before shopping for additional or replacement smoke alarms study a diagram of your house, and contact your local fire station for their advice. If the additional or replacement smoke alarms require electrical work, be sure to hire a licensed professional electrician to do the job. And only purchase electrical products that are marked with the “UL” (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) on both their packaging and the product.
Fire Escape Ladders
If your home is two or more stories then you will need a fire escape ladder to evacuate these areas. When shopping for a portable escape ladder, choose one that even your children can handle, install, and use. Look for ladders with standoffs from the wall since they are easier to climb down. There are also fire escape ladders that can be permanently installed inside just below the window. Once you have your escape ladder plan a drill to practice using the ladder. For safety reasons, practice installing it in a downstairs window, climbing out of the window, and down the ladder. This is a good way to become familiar with using the escape ladder.
First, I want to say thank you to all the firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line everyday for us. Thank You! You are all appreciated.
So, go over your evacuation plan, and check your home safety products, so you will be prepared to protect your family from a fire emergency.
While teaching your children about home fire safety, check out “Sparky The Fire Dog” (http://sparky.org/), they will learn about fire safety and have fun at the same time.