More than 3,500 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 18,300 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck — it’s a matter of planning ahead.
Smoke Alarms in the Home
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family, and a working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
Caring for Older People
Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.
Ensure seniors have working smoke alarms and know what to do in the event of a fire.
Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
I pledge to:
BE SMART WHENEVER I GO OUTDOORS
* To use caution and common sense before lighting any fire.
* To understand that any fire I or my friends create could become a wildfire.
* To understand and practice proper guidelines whenever I or my friends create a fire outdoors.
* To never, ever leave any fire unattended.
* To make sure any fire that I or my friends create is properly and completely extinguished before moving on.
* To properly extinguish and discard smoking materials.
* To be aware of my surroundings and careful when operating equipment during periods of dry or hot weather.
* To speak up and step in when I see someone in danger of starting a wildfire.
* Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
* Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
* Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
Caring for Children
Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.