Each year, fire kills more Americans than all other natural disasters combined and at least 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences. The following are preventive tips for you and your family and ways to stay safe if a fire occurs.
- Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States, many resulting from unattended cooking or human error.
- Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell.
- Wood stoves should sit on a non-combustible surface. Fireplaces should have non-combustible materials around the opening and hearth. Space heaters should be placed on a firm surface at least three feet away from combustible items.
- Gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire as they might cause it to explode.
- Inspect and clean chimneys and vents annually.
- Consider fire-safe landscaping for your property by creating a defensible space between your home and flammable vegetation.
- One of the single most important ways you can protect your family is by having a working smoke detector on every floor of your house.
- In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can grow into a major fire. An average house can fill with thick black smoke in only minutes. Escape first, then call for help.
- Develop a home fire escape plan. Practice it with your family and designate a meeting place outside.
- Never open doors that are hot. Establish two different ways to get out of each room.
- Practice how to open locked or barred doors and windows.
- Always crawl low under smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath.
- Familiarize your family with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Test each smoke alarm every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer.