Precautions and plans made today can prevent a fire-related tragedy tomorrow. Several steps for avoiding fire risks are discussed below. What to do if a fire does strike is also discussed.
- Have A Plan Of Escape
The first step during a fire is to get everyone out of the house. Planning your escape routes now can prevent needless loss of life during a fire.
Map out escape routes from each room in your home with your family. Pay particular attention to escape routes from bedrooms.
Agree on a central area outside your house to meet after evacuation so that everyone can be accounted for. This may be a neighbors front door or a neighborhood landmark. The meeting place should be a place that children or injured people can reach without undue difficulty and yet still be safe from danger. Meeting at the designated place can prevent a tragedy caused by not knowing whether everyone has escaped from the building.
Have safety ladders near windows, if ladders are needed.
Smoke detectors are an excellent early warning device. They are your first line of defense if a fire breaks out at night. Test your detectors on the first day of each month. Replace the batteries in the spring and fall when you change your clocks.
Keep stairs, doorways and hallways free from obstructions. In dense smoke, it may be difficult to see items blocking an escape route.
- Fire Extinguisher
Every kitchen should have a multipurpose fire extinguisher. Cooking is a leading cause of fire. If a fire breaks out in the kitchen, you will want an extinguisher close at hand. If there is a fire in another part of the home, you will know that an extinguisher can be found in the kitchen.
Read the operating instructions on the side of the extinguisher now so that you will know how to use it if needed. Finally, have the extinguisher serviced at the time recommended by the manufacturer. The manufacturers service recommendations should be set out on the side of your fire extinguisher.
- Avoiding Fire Risks
As discussed above, cooking is a major cause of fire. Cooking oil can ignite when it reaches the right temperature. Cooking oil can also splatter and ignite items near the stove. Pot holders, paper napkins, paper towels, curtains, loose clothes and long hair can catch fire in this manner. Do not leave frying pans unattended and keep the stove area clear of clutter.
- Cigarette smoking is another leading cause of home fires. Never smoke in bed, do not rest ashtrays on chair arms and be careful when emptying ashtrays in the trash.
Chimney fires can be avoided by regularly cleaning your chimney. Maintaining your chimney is discussed at this link. As an additional precaution, do not burn large amounts of newspaper or other paper in your fireplace or wood stove.
- Other fires can be avoided by common sense precautions. Inspect electrical appliances for frayed wiring. Replace all defective appliance cords. Electrical maintenance and inspecting appliance cords are discussed at this link. Keep your garage clear of rubbish and wood shavings. Dispose of oily rags that can ignite by spontaneous combustion. Store flammable fuels, chemicals and paints outside.
- In Event Of Fire
If a fire breaks out, immediately:
Get everyone out of the house.
Meet at the designated area to count heads.
Call the fire department from a neighbors home.
- If you discover a small fire that is still contained to its source, you can do the following:
- Cooking pan fire. Cover a small oil or grease fire in a cooking pan with a lid to smother the flames. Next, turn off heat to the pan. Do not use water on an oil or grease fire. Water will spread the flames. Turn off the kitchen exhaust fan. The fan can suck fire through the fan and ignite the outside of your home.
- Oven fire. Turn off the oven and allow the fire to burn itself out. Do not open the oven door - fresh air will feed the fire and cause it to continue to burn.
- Electrical fires. Do not use water on an electrical fire. Water and electricity can be fatal. If you discover an electrical fire early, use a multipurpose fire extinguisher. Otherwise, get everyone out of the house, meet at the designated area and call the fire department.