Fire is the number one emergency in the United States. Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die in fires, more than 25,000 are injured in fires, and more than 100 firefighters are killed while on duty. Most of these deaths occur in residences and could have been prevented.
Common Fire Hazards
A house fire can be caused by many different things, and it only needs a small spark to get started. Some common home fire hazards are:
- Smoking/lit cigarettes
- Open flames from a stove top burner
- Candles left unattended around children and/or pets
- Dryer lint traps that aren't cleaned out regularly
- Old, worn, or frayed electrical cords
- Overloaded electrical outlets and power strips
- Unsafe fireplaces or stoves
In order to protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire.
- Fire is FAST. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is DARK. Fire produces gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three- to- one ratio.
- Fire is HOT. Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super hot air can sear your lungs.
Before a Fire
Take these steps now to prevent a fire in your home:
- Install smoke alarms.
- Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence, including the basement.
- Install a working carbon monoxide detector in the common area near bedrooms.
- Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to replace your batteries when the time changes in March and November. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.
Understand the Hazards
Learn about possible fire hazards in your home and work to minimize their risks.
- Place space heaters at least three feet away from flammable/combustible materials.
- Use only the type of fuel designated for your space heater.
- Keep matches/lighters away from children.
- Smoke responsibly. Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated.
- Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs
- Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high traffic areas.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
- Never leave food unattended on the stove.
- Always wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook.
- Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames
- Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
Escaping the Fire
Have an escape plan. Review escape routes with your family.
- Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut.
- Teach family members to stay low to the floor, where the air is safer, when escaping from a fire.
- Check closed doors with the back of your hand to feel for heat before you open them.
- If the door is hot, do not open it. Find a second way out, such as a window.
- If your clothes catch on fire: stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished.
- Do not assume someone else already called the Fire Department. Get out of the house then call 911.
- Once you are out of the building, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.