If a fire breaks out in your home you may have less than two minutes to escape before it's engulfed in flames. How can you be sure you and your family will know what to do? Prepare, prevent and practice so you are ready for a house fire.
Working Smoke Detectors
- Test your smoke detectors monthly by pressing the test button and listening for the alarm.
- Change the detector batteries on the first day of spring and the first day of fall.
- Smoke detectors should be placed in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. There should be smoke detectors on every level of the home, including the basement.
- Never disable a smoke detector - only working smoke detectors save lives.
A Home Escape Plan
- Draw a diagram of your house showing doors and windows.
- Determine two escape routes out of every room. Contact your local fire department for help in planning for the safe escape of those with disabilities.
- Identify an outdoor meeting place a safe distance from your home. Make sure everyone knows where it is.
- Teach everyone to get out and stay out - leave the house and never re-enter for any reason.
- Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut.
- If you have pets, determine who is responsible for bringing each pet to safety.
- Call 911 from a neighbor's property. Use their phone if you don't have a cell phone.
- Teach children to keep shoes and a flashlight under the bed. Have them practice putting on their shoes and using their flashlight to get out of the house safely.
A Visible Address
- Be sure your address is marked clearly and is visible from the street so emergency crews can find your house quickly.
- If you have a gate code, call your non-emergency police number to file your gate code so emergency personnel can get in.
- Never use charcoal or un-vented appliances in your home.
- Clean/service chimneys and heating systems annually.
- Keep combustibles at least 18 inches away from baseboards and portable heaters.
- Never leave a portable heater unattended, especially around children!
- Never smoke in bed!
- Extinguish smoking materials in sturdy, non-tip ashtrays - do not throw them into trash cans, shrubbery or bark dust.
- Dispose of hot ashes or briquettes away from the house, wood decks and patios.
Matches & Lighters
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children!
- Teach children to tell an adult when they find matches or lighters, and that those items are not toys.
- Do not allow children to use matches or lighters to light candles, especially in bedrooms.
- Consider using only lighters with child-resistant features.
- Never leave the room when using burners, especially when warming food. Fats and grease are highly flammable. In the case of a grease fire, smother the fire with the lid to the pan or use an extinguisher.
- Keep combustibles away from cooking surfaces - even if the heating elements are not in use. Do not store extra pans or combustibles in the oven.
- Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring.
- Do not overload plugs or extension cords! If you cannot avoid using a number of power cords, such as for Christmas lights, be sure to use power strips with surge protector.
- Unplug small appliances like toasters and curing irons when not in use.
- Do not overlook tripped circuit breakers, as they may be an indication of a dangerous situation.
- Do not use circuit breakers as switches; it wears the breakers out which can cause arcing over time.
- Store paint, paint thinner, gasoline and other flammable liquids outside of your home and away from any heat source.
- Rags or combustibles soaked with flammable liquid should be discarded in metal containers with lids, not in trash cans, to prevent spontaneous ignition.
- When you test your smoke detectors, discuss with young children what the alarm means.
- Sleep with your door closed; this can give you extra time and protection from smoke while the smoke alarm alerts you to the fire.
- Teach family members to feel whether doors are hot before they open them; there could be fire on the other side!
- If you have a multi-story home and plan to use an escape ladder, make sure everyone has practiced using it. Climbing down a ladder in the dark can be scary!
Hold Regular Fire Drills to Practice Your Plan
- Practice during the day and night so your family is used to getting out of the house under different conditions.
- Be sure to include meeting at the designated spot and going to the neighbor's house as if you were going to call 911.
- Keep track of how long it takes everyone to get out. Try to be as fast as possible while being safe. Give yourself a two-minute time limit and train until you can get out within that timeframe.
- Remember to include all of your emergency kits in your drills to make it as realistic as possible!
Panic can slow you down - know what to do and how to do it to help prevent panicking.
It's important that you not only have a smoke detector, but also that you check and maintain it regularly.
A fire extinguisher is a storage container for a fire-extinguishing agent such as water or chemicals.