Fire Prevention in the Home
Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and
outside of sleeping areas.
- Test every detector at least once a month. [See your
instruction book for the location of the test button.]
- Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace batteries with
new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping
- If you have a smoke detector directly wired into your
electrical system, be sure that the little signal light is blinking
periodically. This tells you that the alarm is active.
- Inexpensive smoke detectors are available for the
They remain your best bet if you're on the spot when a fire
- Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen,
garage, and workshop.
- Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all
types of fires.
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is
- Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires only. If
there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another
Thinking Ahead: Your Exit Plan. . .
As with other things, the best motto is, "Be
- Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two
ways out of each room.
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of
fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not
open it; escape through another door or window.
- Easy-to-use window escape ladders are available through
many catalogues and outlet stores. For instance, First Alert sells one for
- Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family
members are to gather for a head count.
- Stay together away from the fire. Call 911 from another
location. Make certain that no one goes back inside the burning building.
- Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free
of obstructions and combustibles.
- To help cut down on the need for an emergency exit in
the first place, clear all unnecessary items from the attic, basement,
garage, and closets.
Remember, you're deliberately bringing fire into your home;
- Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying.
- Don't store newspapers, kindling, or matches near the
fireplace or have an exposed rug or wooden floor right in front of the
- Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to
the start of every heating season and cleaned to remove combustible creosote
build-up if necessary.
- Install a chimney spark arrester to prevent roof fires.
- When lighting a gas fireplace, strike your match first,
then turn on the gas.
Used improperly, a space heater can be the most dangerous
appliance in your house.
- Install and maintain heating equipment correctly. Have
your furnace inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating
- Don't store newspapers, rags, or other combustible
materials near a furnace, hot water heater, space heater, etc.
- Don't leave space heaters operating when you're not in
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from
anything that might burn, including the wall.
- Don't use extension cords with electrical space heaters.
The high amount of current they require could melt the cord and start a
- When lighting a gas space heater, strike your match
first, then turn on the gas.
- Never use a gas range as a substitute for a furnace or
Under some circumstances, dangerous heat can build up in a
- Never leave home with the clothes dryer running.
- Dryers must be vented to the outside, not into a wall or
- Clean the lint screen frequently to keep the airway
- Never put in synthetic fabrics, plastic, rubber, or foam
because they retain heat.
Electricity, the silent servant, can become a silent assassin.
- It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you
must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a
rug or twist it around a nail or hook.
- Never overload a socket. In particular, the use of
"octopus" outlets, outlet extensions that accommodate several
plugs, is strongly discouraged.
- Do not use light bulb wattage which is too high for the
fixture. Look for the label inside each fixture which tells the maximum
- Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose
wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you've waited too
- Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating.
The same applies to plug-in radios and stereo sets, and to powerful lamps.
- If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently,
immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.
- Be sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters
Laboratories (UL) label.
- In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system
has not kept pace with today's modern appliances. Overloaded electrical
systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when
an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or
fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.
Careless cooking is the number one cause of residential fires.
Never leave cooking unattended.
- It's wise to have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.
Keep it 10 feet away from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
- Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove
and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
- Keep pot handles on the stove pointing to the back, and
always watch young children in the kitchen.
- Don't store items on the stove top, as they could catch
- Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and
turn them off and disconnect them when not in use.
- Don't overload kitchen electrical outlets and don't use
appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
- Wear tight-fitting clothing when you cook. Here's why:
An electrical coil on the stove reaches a temperature of 800 degrees. A gas
flame goes over 1,000 degrees. Your dish towel or pot holder can catch fire
at 400 degrees. So can your bathrobe, apron, or loose sleeve.
- Be sure your stove is not located under a window in
which curtains are hanging.
- Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove
regularly. and wipe up spilled grease as soon as the surface of the stove is
- Operate your microwave only when there is food in it.
Children and Grandchildren:
One-fourth of all fire-deaths of children are from fires
started by children.
- Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
- Never leave children unattended with fire or space
- Children are naturally curious about fire, so keep an
eye on them. But if a child repeatedly plays with fire or seems to have a
morbid fascination with fire, seek professional help at once.
- If youngsters live with you or stay overnight
occasionally, be sure that they know how to escape from every room and are
part of your emergency exit plan. [See "Thinking Ahead" above]
Gasoline and other Flammable Liquids:
Those cans aren't painted red just for the fun of it!
- Flammable liquids should be stored only in approved
safety containers, and the containers should be kept outside the house and
garage in a separate storage shed.
- Gas up lawn equipment and snowthrowers outside, away
from enclosed areas and any source of sparks or heat.
- Start the equipment 10 feet from where you filled it
- Don't fill a hot lawn mower, snowthrower, or other
motor; let it cool first.
- Never clean floors or do other general cleaning with
gasoline or flammable liquids.
If you actually believe that you're immune from cancer, heart
disease, emphysema, and other ills, at least worry about burning to death.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Don't smoke when you are drinking or are abnormally
- Use large, deep ashtrays, and empty them frequently.
- Never dump an ashtray into the trash without wetting the
butts and ashes first.
In 1999, according to the National Fire Protection
Association, 3,570 Americans were killed and another 21,875 were injured as a
result of fire. Direct property loss due to fires was estimated at $10 billion.
Fire killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined. 82% of all fire
deaths occurred in residences. With these startling statistics in mind, here are
some safety tips for you:
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