Home Fire Safety
Knowing what to do around the house if a fire occurs and regularly practicing drills can be the difference in life and death when facing a dangerous situation. Children and adults need to be alert to the dangers that can happen around the house. Firefighters are trained over and over in skills and techniques so they are able to perform those actions without hesitation. Families need to practice safety around the house the same way.
Families need to walk through their homes and look at various areas, thinking of the types of danger present, and talking about it. Any electrical appliance can pose a danger but pay attention to any with older wiring or overloaded outlets. Heaters, vents, or other devices that get hot need to be clear from objects that may catch fire. Gas appliances such as water heaters, stoves, grills, and heaters are particularly dangerous. A gas-filled room can catch a spark from across the room and explode. Kitchens and garages are common areas where fires occur. Fire extinguishers should be available and accessible near kitchens and garages, but not immediately next to stoves or other hazards.
Contact the Fire Department
If you have any questions about fire safety, smoke alarms, or carbon monoxide alarms please stop by your local fire station or call us at 918-272-5253.
Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH)
Families need to plan and practice escape routes out of the house. If possible discuss 2 different ways out. Exiting through doors is safer and preferred. Windows and other openings are secondary. Make sure everyone knows how to unlock and operate all latches.
Have a designated area to meet. The meeting area should always be the same. Once you get to the meeting spot stay there unless you are calling for help or a police/firefighter says it is okay to leave. This is the safest and easiest way to account for your family.
Practicing your exit drills is not only smart, but it can be fun. Once the family has planned their exits, start practicing. Work on getting out faster, without skipping any safety steps. Keep it simple at first, but don't be afraid to challenge the family by adding a few obstacles.
Practice crawling fast and staying low to escape the smoke. Heated smoke and toxic gases rise to the top leaving the cleaner air down low. It is safer to breathe and see near the floor.
Practice activating your smoke detectors so the family knows what they sound like and practice exiting the house. Be careful not to set off a false alarm with an alarm company or your local fire department. If you live in apartments or shared buildings, talk to the owner about safety plans and options.
During a Fire
Keep in contact with a wall if possible. It is easy to get confused during a fire and get lost if you don't have something to guide you.
Check the door with the back of your hand before opening it. If the door feels hot, use your second escape route. If you must open the door, brace your body against it and open it slowly. Be ready to close it if heat and smoke rush in.
If you become trapped close any doors or openings between you and the fire. Stuff fabrics in cracks and vents to keep smoke out. Wait by a window or a far corner that would be easily accessible to rescuers and away from the fire. Do not hide in closets or under objects, this makes it very hard to find you. If a window is available signal for help with a flashlight or a sheet and wave it out the window. Portable escape ladders are great for an emergency evacuation. Do not jump out of the window unless there is immediate danger of being burned or overcome by smoke.
Thousands of Americans die each year in fire-related incidents. Most of these deaths are not caused by the flames or heat, but by the toxic gases and smoke produced during combustion.
Most fatal house fires occur in late evenings and overnight while families are sleeping. Fires often generate lethal amounts of unseen smoke and fumes well before flames are visible and before heat makes the occupants uncomfortable. As a result, many people who die in home fires are asleep and never wake up.
Smoke detectors, when properly placed and maintained, can alert occupants to lethal smoke and provide them with a chance to escape. Buy as many alarms as it takes to give your home complete coverage. You should have a smoke alarm in each bedroom, in the hallway close to each sleeping area, and in heavily occupied areas. You should have at least 1 alarm on every floor of your house. Place them on the ceiling or upper part of the wall, about 10 inches away from the intersecting ceiling and wall. Avoid corners which have areas of dead space near them.
Smoke detector maintenance is often the most important and neglected part of fire safety. Test your alarms at least once a month. Change the battery at least once a year, even if you think it is still good. Dust and vacuum the alarms regularly. Dust deposits can cause alarms to trip accidentally and reduces their sensitivity. If your detectors begin to chirp at you, start by checking the battery. This is often a warning sign of a low battery, but it can also be telling you that it is dirty or malfunctioning. It is recommended that your smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that is a leading cause of death by poisoning in the United States. Because you cannot smell, taste, or see the gas, it can kill without warning. Carbon monoxide kills by displacing oxygen within the blood and suffocating the body from the inside.
The gas, CO, is a product of any fuel-burning appliance. Examples are water heaters, furnaces, grills, stoves, fireplaces, and many other common household items. It is recommended to place CO alarms 15 to 20 feet away from any of these types of appliances, but near any sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is heavier than air and stays low to the floor. The best place for CO alarms is lower to the floor.