One of the scariest things that may happen to your family and house is waking up to smoke and fire. In 2019, over a million fires occurred in the United States, resulting in $15 billion in losses and 3,704 deaths. Regardless of where you reside, there are some general fire safety precautions you should take. Taking the time to explore the following fire safety basics will help you, your friends, and family live in a safer and more secure environment.
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Install a Smoke Alarm
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In the event of a fire, smoke alarms are your best early warning system. Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping room and on every level of your home, including the basement. Install one inside your bedroom area as well if you sleep with the door closed.
Test smoke alarms once a month and batteries should be replaced once a year, or whenever an alarm "chirps" to indicate low battery power. Never "borrow" a smoke alarm's battery for another purpose; a smoke alarm that isn't working can't save your life. All alarms that are more than ten years old should be replaced.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Smoke alarms should not be placed in the corners of rooms.
- To ensure optimal operation of the unit, do not place smoke alarms near air-conditioning vents, heating vents, or ceiling fans.
- To avoid false alarms, do not install smoke alarms in kitchens or bathrooms.
- Ensure that your smoke alarms are interconnected, so that the activation of one alarm will trigger all of the alarms in your home.
- Use smoke alarms that are powered by the building's electrical system and have a battery backup. If this form of smoke alarm is not available, battery-operated versions are far preferable to no smoke alarms at all.
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Consider adding an automatic fire sprinkler system for comprehensive home safety. Install household fire sprinklers if you're building or remodeling your home. Sprinklers can confine and possibly extinguish a fire in a shorter time than the fire brigade would arrive.
Make an Escape Plan
Every 88 seconds, a house fire is reported. A fire can spread swiftly once the smoke alarm goes off, leaving only a minute or two to escape. That is why having a house escape plan is so crucial.
Begin by developing a map of your home and following the NFPA's(National Fire Protection Association) guidelines:
- Prepare two routes to get out of each room.
- Ensure that all outside doors and windows open freely.
- Determine alternate routes: a collapsible ladder from a second-floor window or a window onto a nearby roof
- Plan to take the stairs rather than the elevator if you reside in a multi-story building.
- Establish an outside meeting location that is a safe distance from the residence.
Practice your Escape Plan
Everyone in your family, including youngsters, should be aware of your family's evacuation strategy. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71% of Americans have a home fire escape plan, but just 47% have used it. Twice a year, practice your fire drill with everyone in the house, both at night and during the day. Keep in mind to:
- Experiment with getting out with your eyes closed, slithering low to the ground, and covering your mouth.
- Close doors behind you and practice "stop, drop, and roll" if your clothing catches fire.
- Before opening a door, try the handles to discover if they are hot.
- Teach youngsters not to hide and how to flee on their own if you are unable to assist them.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher and How to Use It
Always prioritize your safety; if you are unsure about your abilities to utilize a fire extinguisher, exit the building and dial 9-1-1. The American Red Cross advises you to assess the situation and make certain that:
- Everyone has departed or is about to leave the house.
- The fire department has been dispatched to the scene.
- The fire is tiny and does not spread, and there is little smoke.
- You have a speedy exit in front of you.
Be familiar with the acronym PASS:
- Pull the pin.
- Aim low, at the fire's base.
- Slowly squeeze the handle.
- Sweep the nozzle back and forth.
Be Wary of Potential Hazards in Your Home
Candles and Incense Basics
Remember that candles and burning incense are open flames, so keeping them out of your home is the safest alternative.
Never leave candles or incense unattended, and always put them out before leaving the room or sleeping.
Candles and incense should be kept away from curtains, clothing, books, newspapers, and other combustible materials.
Keep combustible liquids away from candles and incense (i.e., alcohol, oil, etc.)
Use sturdy candle holders that are made of non-combustible materials, large enough to catch wax drippings, and don't easily tip over.
Trim candle wicks to one-quarter inch and keep them that way for the duration of the candle's life.
Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended, and keep an eye on food cooking in the oven.
Maintain a clean and tidy cooking environment devoid of objects that easily catch fire, such as fabric (curtains, potholders, towels, etc.), paper (cook books, food packaging, newspapers, etc.), and plastic (cook books, food packaging, newspapers, etc). (food packaging, storage containers, etc.)
While cooking, roll up your shirtsleeves or wear short, tight sleeves to prevent your garments from catching fire on the stove burners.
Keep a potholder, oven mitt, and lid on hand at all times.
To avoid scorching as the moisture in the cloth heats up, never use a damp potholder or oven mitt.
Microwaves should never be plugged into extension cables, and metal containers or tinfoil should never be microwaved.
Make sure your kitchen is kid free.
Cool a Burn
A burn should be treated as soon as possible. Soak it for three to five minutes in cool water. Cover with a dry, clean cloth.
Get medical treatment right away if the burn is larger than your fist or if you have any questions.
All clothing, diapers, jewelry, and metal should be removed from the burned areas.
If an electric appliance starts to smoke or emits a strange odor, disconnect it right away and have it repaired before reusing it. Any electrical cord that is damaged or frayed should be replaced. Only one electrical cord should be plugged into each outlet. Any cords should not be run under rugs. Don't tamper with your fuse box or use fuses that aren't the right size.
Smoke outside to avoid endangering others.
Never smoke in bed, and never smoke in a place where oxygen tanks are used.
If you are drowsy, inebriated, or using medicine or other medicines that affect your ability to handle smoking materials correctly, don't smoke.
On a stable surface, use deep, wide ashtrays.
Before dumping butts and ashes, make sure they are extinguished by soaking them in water.
Check for butts and ashes that may have dropped out of sight behind furniture cushions and in other locations where people smoke.
Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
Consider switching to smokeless cigarettes, which are less prone to start a fire.
Remember to follow the guidelines above to keep safe in the event of a fire. Also, remember to maintain your composure in an emergency. The majority of house fires can be avoided.