Protect Yourself and Your Family Against Fire
Fire is one of the most common disasters and causes more deaths than any other type of disaster. Most fires, however, are preventable. If a fire does occur, it doesn't have to be deadly. Early warning from a smoke detector and knowing how to escape calmly can prevent fatalities.
- Keep blankets, clothing, curtains, furniture and anything that could get hot and catch fire away from portable heaters.
- Keep flammable items such as towels, clothing and curtains away from the stove.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children.
- Be sure your heating and electrical systems are properly maintained and in good working order.
- Carefully follow the instructions on all appliances and heating units, taking special care not to overload your electrical system.
- Be especially careful that your holiday decorations are safely displayed.
Be Prepared for Fire
- Install smoke detectors outside each sleeping area and on every additional level of your residence.
- Check smoke detectors once a month using the test buttons. Start a chart and sign it after each round of tests. This is a good way to get children involved in fire and safety awareness.
- Keep new batteries for your smoke detector on hand. Replace batteries at least once a year.
- Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Check your extinguisher to ensure that it is properly charged. If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, replace it or have it professionally serviced. Get training from your local fire department in fire extinguisher use.
Plan Escape Routes
- Draw a floor plan of your home. Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two ways to escape from every room.
- If you must use an escape ladder from some rooms, be sure that everyone knows how to use it.
- Select a safe location outside your home where everyone would meet after escaping.
- Practice a low-crawl escape with children from their bedrooms. Try it with your eyes closed to demonstrate what it would be like in thick smoke.
- Conduct a home fire drill at least twice a year using a smoke detector signal to start the drill. Fire drills are especially important for children between the ages of two and twelve.
- Arrange to take your children to the local fire station where they can see a firefighter dressed in a mask, boots and heavy equipment. Young children are often afraid of firefighters in full regalia and may even hide from them in a fire. Teach your children that firefighters can help them in a fire.
Escape Safely in the Event of Fire
- If you see smoke in your first escape route, use a pre-planned second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl close to the ground, under the smoke to escape.
- If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is hot, don't open it. Use your pre-planned secondary route of escape. If it is not hot, open the door slowly and check for smoke and fire.
- If smoke, heat, or flames block your exits, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a bright colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.
- Once you are outside, meet at your designated meeting place and then call for help. Never re-enter a burning building!
Protect Your Property
- Insure your personal property. Shop around for a company that best meets your needs for renter's or home owner's insurance.
- Store important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and insurance papers in a fire-proof box or in the refrigerator. Better yet, rent a safety deposit box at your local bank.
- Make an itemized list of your personal property, including furniture, clothing, appliances and other valuables. Keep this list up to date and store it with other important documents.
Remember...if a fire affects your community, you can count on your local Red Cross chapter to be there to help you and your family.