Fire Prevention at Home

Oftentimes, we get busy and don’t pay attention to what is happening at home. Take some time to go over these important facts to make sure you don’t allow unsafe conditions.

Plan and practice an exit strategy in case of emergency, such as a fire or noxious fumes. Make sure everyone keeps the house in an orderly manner to avoid obstacles blocking exit paths.

Fire is dark, fast and hot. You can’t see in a fire situation, particularly on overcast days, at night or when the power is out. The hot air robs the oxygen from the room so you can’t breathe. A racing fire gives you no time to think, just a sliver of time to react by running to the nearest exit. Don’t stop to grab a pet, a photo album, a treasured heirloom. You won’t be enjoying them if you’re dead, and your life is in extreme danger. Be ready to exit from wherever you are, as an automatic reaction.

Sleeping on the first floor will give you precious seconds to exit the house. If you are remodeling, consider expanding the house’s foundation instead of adding another floor. If you go up, keep a rope ladder in every upstairs room.

Construction costs can be lowered by using steel 2-by-4’s instead of wood. DON’T DO IT! In a fire, room temperatures can skyrocket in mere seconds to 3000 or 4000 degrees. Steel will melt and fold, taking the drywall with it, trapping you inside. Regardless of whether you are building new or remodeling, the wooden posts that cost just a little more will give you the precious time you need to escape with your life.

To keep fires from starting, do regular maintenance around the house that will keep it safe and healthy for your loved ones.

Put smoke detectors on all floors and in every bedroom. Keep batteries fresh by replacing them every six months, changing out the old ones to use in other places around the house.

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and in the garage. A bottle of water and a bottle of sand can be kept easily accessible on the kitchen counter without taking up much space, and can be grabbed in an emergency.

Change furnace filters monthly in the winter and every other month in the summer. Keep flammable materials away from your furnace and water heater. Don’t stack boxes in the same closet or same space in the basement with anything with a pilot light. Many fires are caused every year by storing holiday ornaments next to a furnace.

Speaking of holidays, throw away old lights and use only UL-approved light strings. Make sure to follow manufacturers’ instructions regarding the piggybacking of lighting cords. Don’t overload an extension cord. Use outside lights only to decorate outside. Don’t string decorations across traffic areas. Buy cool-burning lights instead of hotter bulbs.

Avoid using hotter lights such as halogen or LED. Make sure your outlets are grounded and that ground fault interrupter circuits are installed wherever water is present.

Keep stairs and hallways free of clutter. Don’t wear loose clothing in the kitchen or have hanging curtains. Double-check for hanging cords.

Be cautious when cooking. Do not leave the room when food is cooking, whether on the stove, in the oven or in a counter appliance. Make sure appliances are turned off when leaving the room and again when leaving the house. Don’t leave coffeepots plugged in.

Don’t smoke in bed. Keep matches in a fireproof container. Be very careful with candles. They are currently very popular, both for fragrance and ambience. However, they should be extinguished before leaving the room and should never be placed around or under other items. They need to be used only on fireproof surfaces.

Don’t use the oven to take the chill out of the house, or heat the house overnight. Turn off all appliances before going to bed. Fans that are left on can catch fire, so don’t leave them unattended.

Never use a space heater that stays on if it tips. Space heaters have been greatly improved, and should turn off immediately in case of tipping or falling over. Use UL-approved cords and plugs. Space heaters should not be used in the bathroom or in any room when it is unattended or while you are asleep.

Remember the definition of fire — dark, hot and fast. Keep your head down to exit a smoky room and crawl on the floor to take advantage of any remaining oxygen. Move fast to the exit and live to see another day.

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