Fire Safety & Prevention at Your Home
Every year nearly 4,000 americans die in home fires and approximately 25,000 are injured. Children and the elderly are especially at risk in home fires because they are less able to escape when fire strikes. You can improve the chances that your family will survive a home fire by making sure that they can escape quickly if necessary.
Smoke Alarms Are Life Savers
The primary fire safety strategy for any home is to warn the occupants early. The best way to get the earliest warning of danger is by installing enough smoke alarms. Homes should have a smoke alarm near the bedrooms, but not so close to the kitchen that you have problems with alarms from cooking. It's a good idea to have a smoke alarm in each bedroom, especially if you sleep with the door closed.
Planning Your Escape
The other part of the fire safety plan is for everyone to get out quickly. When you are awakened in the middle of the night to a fire, your thinking may be confused, so it is important that you practice your escape plan ahead of time. That way, your whole family will know what to do. Manufactured homes have more ways to escape than most other homes. There are always two doors, and every bedroom has an emergency escape window. Make sure that everyone knows how to open the emergency windows so no time is wasted when fire strikes.
Newer escape windows are labeled with operating instructions. Everyone in the family, as well as frequent visitors and babysitters, should practice the escape plan, including opening the escape windows.
Can You Beat the Clock?
Most people do not realize how quickly fires can grow. A home fire can become a killer in as little as 3 minutes. Can your family get out this fast? Consider that it may take one minute for the smoke alarm to sound and for you to recognize the danger. If you have young children or you are elderly and move more slowly, you may need another minute to get ready.
This leaves only 1 minute for you all to get to an exit, open it, and get out. By practicing your escape, you can make every second count.
Have a Sound Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.
Practice Escaping from Every Room in the Home
Practice escape plans every month. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or using an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened.
Also, practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
Security Bars Require Special Precautions
Security bars may help to keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire! Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
Immediately Leave The Home
When a fire occurs, do not waste any time-saving property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low, under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. The smoke contains toxic gases, which can disorient you or, at worst, overcome you.
Never Open Doors That Are Hot to the Touch
When you come to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame to make sure that fire is not on the other side. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. Brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.
Designate a Meeting Place Outside & Take Attendance
Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.
Once Out, Stay Out
Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department using the 911 system. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.