In only a matter of minutes, a small house fire can rage out of control. Heat temperatures from a fire can reach 1,500 °F. The flames emit carbon monoxide gas, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless – and can cause immediate unconsciousness, followed by death.
In the 1970’s it would take about 30 minutes for a fire to take over a room; today it can take over a room in less than 5 minutes. The foam and particle board in much of today’s furniture makes fires burn faster.
Installing smoke detectors is a great way to keep your home safer, fire extinguishers are paramount and knowledge is important to preventing chaos during a fire. Every family should have and practice an escape plan. FEMA studies have shown that children as young as three years old can understand an escape plan and the concept of fire drills.
Smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.
■ A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
■ Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
■ Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
■ Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
■ Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
■ When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
■ Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.
■ Safety tips
- Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, and is not growing; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke and everyone has left
- To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
- For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.\
- Even if there’s no expirationdate, it won’t last forever. Manufacturers say most extinguishers should work for 5 to 15 years, but you might not know if you got yours three years ago or 13. The recommendation is to check the pressure gauge monthly.
- Every household extinguisheris labeled A, B, or C, which tells you the types of fires the extinguisher is effective against. A is ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, and cloth; B is flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil; and C is live electricity.
- Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.
- Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your bedroom closet and in your basement.
- Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have ahome fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.
- Purchase a fire ladder for two story homes
- Purchase and install power failure lights and put them in every room and hallways in your home.
ESCAPE PLANS AND FIRE DRILLS
■ Determine the fastest and best way for each individual to exit AND create a map indicating all home exits.
- Schedule monthly practices drills and choose a meeting place outside the home. Blow a whistle to start the drill. Speed is crucial, use a times. In a fire you have less than a minute to get out?
■ Teach Stop, Drop & Roll
■ Keep the number for the local fire department in your phone and written down with all emergency numbers.
POSSIBLE FIRE HAZARDS IN THE HOME
■ Check electrical appliances for loose or frayed cords. Do not place wires under rugs
■ Install GFCI outlets. Especially near water sources. Do not overload outlets with plugs.
■ Unplug when not in use: Space heaters, electrical blankets, various appliances (follow space heater and electrical blanket safety. Improper use causes fires.)
■ Candles: Keep out of reach of children pets, curtains and furniture. Never leave candles unattended.
■ Inspect Furnace and heating systems annually
■ In the kitchen keep an eye on appliances, make sure they are turned off and unplugged when not in use. Use the rear burners and turn the handles inwards when using pots and pans.
■ Fireplaces: keep clean, cover with a screen, do not burn papers and other materials, distinguish the fire before leaving the room. Have your chimney cleaned professionally once a year.
Reach out to your local fire department for any additional tips.