More than 3,000 Americans lose their lives each year due to fires, many of which occur in the home. Many lives could be saved by using time-tested methods to prevent and survive a fire. Survival, it turns out, is not a question of luck. Rather, it is a matter of exercising caution and planning ahead. Below are tips for fire prevention and survival.
Every home needs smoke detectors on each floor of the house, and outside each sleeping area. A properly functioning smoke alarm doubles your chances of surviving a fire! Test your alarms on a monthly basis, and replace the batteries at least once each year.
Plan Your Escape Route, and Practice It
If fire breaks out in your home, you must have a plan to get out, and get out fast! You should practice an escape route from each room of your home. Remind all of your family members to stay low to the ground when escaping a fire, and never open doors that are hot to the touch. Plan a location for everyone to meet after exiting the home. And once you are out, stay out.
Space heaters need lots of space around them. Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from the heater. Turn portable heaters off before leaving the home or going to bed. Keep pets and children well away from them.
Use Care When Cooking
Keep cooking areas free of flammable items, and never leave your cooking area unattended. Wear tight-fitting sleeves, and keep pot handles turned inward, so they cannot be pulled over. In case of a grease fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the fire. Don’t ever put foil or other metallic items in a microwave, and always keep an ABC rated fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen.
Practice Electrical Safety
If an electrical appliance begins to emit smoke or an unusual smell, unplug it right away and don’t use it again unless you have it repaired professionally. Never overload circuits or extension cords, and never run cords under rugs. Don’t tamper with your home’s fuse box, and never use fuses that are not the proper size.
Matches and Lighters
Teach your children that matches and lighters are not toys, and that they should only be used by adults. Store them on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet that kids cannot reach.
In the United States, carelessly discarded cigarettes are the number one cause of fire deaths. Don’t ever smoke in bed, or when you feel drowsy. If you have smokers in the home, use large, deep ash trays, and run cigarette butts under water before throwing them away. Before going to sleep, make sure no cigarette is left smoldering anywhere in the house.
Stop, Drop, and Roll
Remind family members of this rule. If your clothing catches fire, first and foremost, do not run. Instead, stop where you are, drop down to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over repeatedly to smother the fire.
Be conscientious in your home, and remember that where fire is concerned, preventative measures and careful planning saves lives.