Fire prevention and safety tips Posted in General, Home 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 Red Cross, each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in house fires in the United States, with direct property loss estimated at $7.3 billion annually. House fires are preventable so take action and keep you and your loved ones safe by following these seven tips. 1. Smoke detectors — When’s 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. Interconnected smoke alarms are available which means when one goes off, they all sound. 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 has an escape planning grid which may help them better understand what they should do and where they should go. 3. Cooking — When using your stovetop, always stay in the kitchen and if you have to 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 peaking December through February mostly due to the increase in usage of space heaters. Always read and follow the directions and keep it 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. 5. Candles — it’s important to never leave a lit candle unattended or allow older children to use candles unsupervised in their bedrooms. 6. Fire extinguishers — a fire extinguisher is a good tool when a fire is contained in a small area and used after the fire department has been called. 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. 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 as smoke rises, making it more difficult to breathe Never touch a doorknob as it could be extremely hot; instead touch the door — 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 Call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency Being prepared is the best way to protect you and your loved ones during a fire. Share this article with family and friends so they too can help prevent fires and stay safe. Share via: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Related resources Tips to winterize your home Posted in Home Winter in the Midwest can be brutal and with the snow and extreme cold comes weather-related damage and losses — many of which are avoidable. Learn what precautions you can take to avoid a claim on your home this winter.