Two minutes. That’s the amount of time fire experts say that you have to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. According to the American Red Cross, each year more than 2,500 people die and more than 10,950 are injured in house fires in the United States, with direct property loss estimated at $7 billion annually.
Home fires are preventable. With help from fire escape plans and tools like smoke alarms, you and your family can save lives. Plus, reducing fire hazards around your home can minimize the risk of smoldering fire damage. Follow these seven fire safety tips to take action and keep you and your loved ones safe.
1. Smoke detectors
When was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke detector? Get in the habit of checking the alarm monthly and replacing the batteries twice a year. Smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom and on all levels of your home. A smoke alarm will chirp when it has a low battery. For easy battery backup, always keep a few in a drawer nearby to make a quick switch.
2. Fire escape plan
It’s important to create and practice a fire escape plan as a family. Explore alternate escape routes in case the fire is blocking the main exit. If you have small children, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has an escape planning grid which may help them better understand what they should do and where they should go.
When using your stovetop, always stay in the kitchen and if you must leave (even for a moment) turn it off. Always stay in your house when you’re using the oven, checking it regularly. It’s also important to keep items that are flammable such as potholders and towels away from the stove.
4. Space heaters
The number of residential fires always goes up during the winter months. The rates peak from December through February mostly due to the increase in usage of space heaters. Be sure to follow the directions and keep the space heater at least three feet from anything flammable. Never place a space heater near a bed or in a spot where a child or pet could easily knock it over.
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It’s important to never leave a lit candle unattended or allow older children to use candles unsupervised in their bedrooms. Additionally, keep lit candles away from breezy windows with curtains and other objects that can encounter the flame.
6. Fire extinguishers
A fire extinguisher is a good tool when a fire is contained in a small area and you use it after you call the fire department. The National Fire Protection Agency says to remember PASS when using an extinguisher.
- Pull the pin
- Aim low
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side
Did you know there is a shelf-life on fire extinguishers? Check to make sure yours isn’t expired by looking at the date on the gauge.
7. Teaching kids about fires
Teach your kids the facts about fires so they know how to protect themselves.
- Call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- Cover their mouth and nose with clothing to make it easier to breath while getting out of the house.
- Crawl and stay low to the ground because as smoke rises, it’s more difficult to breathe.
- Never touch a doorknob as it could be extremely hot. Touch the door instead. If it’s hot, do not open as it means there are flames on the other side.
- Never stop to gather personal belongings.
- Stop, drop and roll to extinguish a fire on their clothing.
Being prepared is the best way to protect you and your loved ones during a fire. Practice fire safety at home regularly by identifying potential fire hazards and what scenarios could make them dangerous. As a family, discuss everyday activities that can lead to fire without proper precautions.
Fire prevention is possible when you follow these fire safety tips. Share this article with family and friends so they too can help prevent fires and stay safe.
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