Fire Prevention Month: 4 Best Tips to Stay Safe!
October is Fire Prevention Month here in the United States.
The goal of Fire Prevention Month is to raise the level of awareness about fire safety and to help ensure that you, your home, and your family, are always protected.
Over the course of Fire Prevention Month, fire departments supply fire prevention education to their communities and encourage parents and loved ones to practice fire prevention and whole home safety in an effort to signify the true importance of fire prevention month.
How Common Are House Fires?
The assumption is always that a house fire will not happen to us, but they are far more common than you think.
The NFPA reports that in just 2019 alone, there were over 361,000 residential fires across the United States, with over 3,700 civilians who lost their lives.
In the United States, someone dies in a structure fire every two hours and 56 minutes.
Furthermore, your risk of dying can increase based upon where you live. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the seven states with more than 20 fire deaths (excluding firefighters) and those with the highest fire death rates are:
- West Virginia
4 Fire Safety Tips to Keep Your Family Safe
Install Smoke Detectors
According to the NFPA, 75% of residential fires take place in homes without a smoke detector or without a working smoke detector.
It is recommended to have at least one working smoke detector on each level of your home.
If you are planning to put a detector in your kitchen, it is important to remember that it should be at least ten feet away from cooking appliances to minimize the number of false alarms.
The United States Consumer Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends changing the batteries inside of your smoke detector during daylight savings time and testing them monthly to make sure they are still working. To prevent false alarms, keep them free of cobwebs and dust.
Install Fire Extinguishers
It’s recommended to have fire extinguishers on every level of your home, including the basement and garage. They should be installed high on the wall so that they’re easily out of the reach of children.
All fire extinguishers have directions that allow homeowners to become well versed in how to use them, and it’s important to brush up on this information prior to a fire, because, when a fire occurs, your time to act on it and put it out will be limited.
Additionally, it’s best to stick with extinguishers from the same brand since each manufacturer creates an extinguisher that works differently and has different instructions.
If you have various brands of extinguishers, it can be difficult to remember how they all work in case of an emergency.
Create a Fire Escape Plan
A home fire escape plan is essential because if a fire breaks out, every second counts.
To make a home fire escape plan, start by drawing your home’s floor plan using the NFPA’s escape grid.
Try to find at least two escape routes out of every room in your home and map them on the grid.
Talk with your family, including any young children, about how to use the escape plan if necessary and make sure to appoint a meeting place outside of your home to help them visualize where to go if they need to get out.
Next practice escaping each room with your family in a modified fire drill. You can use these steps from the Burn Institute’s Fire Safe Kid program to help:
- Learn How to Get Out of Bed: If the fire alarm goes off, roll out of bed and crawl to the escape route.
- Stay Low: Crawl as low as you can on the floor to stay away from smoke. If your escape route involves going downstairs, don’t get up, slide down the stairs on your belly or go down on your knees.
- Touch Doors Safely: Touch doorknobs with the back of your hand first, and if it feels cool to the touch, use your body as a brace to open the door slightly. If there is no smoke, exit the room and follow your escape plan. If there’s smoke or a fire, close the door and leave the room through another door or window.
- Call 911: Make sure everyone in your family knows how to dial 911 or the phone number for your local fire department to report the fire.
- Never Go Back Inside: One of the most critical tips – and one to always follow – never under any circumstance should you go back inside of the home. If someone or something is missing, alert the firefighters on scene as they have the tools to best handle the situation.
Check Electrical Safety
Fire Rescue 1 says faulty electrical outlets and older appliances are the most common cause of electrical fires. There are several ways to tell if an electrical outlet is a hazard:
- Warmth or Heat: Use your hands to feel the outlet. If you detect any warmth or notice signs of melting plastic, replace it right away.
- Smoke: If smoke comes out of any electrical outlet, it’s an indicator that fire may be on the horizon.
- Loose Connections: If any outlets are loose in the wall, or no longer hold a plug tightly, replace the outlet immediately.
- Sounds: If you hear buzzing or popping sounds coming from an outlet, turn off the power to that area and call a licensed electrician.
- Frayed Wires: Take off the plastic cover surrounding the outlet and examine the wiring. If the inside of the outlet looks damaged, avoid using it and call an electrician to repair it or remove it and replace it.
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