As the National Fire Prevention Month, October is the time when public service departments join forces to spread the word about fire safety. Although we should all learn fire safety during the whole month and beyond, the official observance sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is National Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12).
The goal of National Fire Prevention Week (NFPW) is to educate people about keeping themselves and those around them safe. The 2019 theme is, “Not Every Hero Wear a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” To celebrate NFPW, check out the fire escape plan and other safety tips below.
Create a Fire Escape Plan
- Inspect all exits and escape routes in your home. Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.
- Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
- Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet. Mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
- Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. This ensures the responding emergency personnel can easily find your home.
- Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
- Remember to close all doors on your way out; this slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them. Also, plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
- Be prepared to escape under toxic smoke. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and under the smoke, moving towards the exit.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Do not go back inside under any circumstances. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings may be safe “sealing themselves in for safety” (see below).
- Practice “sealing yourself in for safety” as part of your home fire escape plan in case smoke or fire prevents your from exiting your home or apartment building. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlights or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are.
- Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don’t have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is important when children are allowed to attend sleepovers at friends’ homes.
Smoke Alarm Tips
- Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) detector in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
- Interconnect all smoke and CO alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do.
- Test alarms monthly by pushing the test button. Pick a day, such as the 1st of the month. Change the batteries twice a year when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.
- Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
Next, review the kitchen fire safety measures below.
Remember – cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire-related home injuries.
- Never cook when you are drowsy or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication.
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food. If you must leave the kitchen, don’t forget to turn off the stove.
- Keep an eye on the food you are cooking. Use a timer to remind you to check on the food.
- If you have young children, use only the stove’s back burners as much as possible.
- Supervise children and pets when they are in the kitchen. Keep them at least three feet away from the stove.
- When you cook, wear clothing with short and/or tight-fitting sleeves. Loose clothing can easily catch fire.
- Keep anything that can burn such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper, plastic bags, and towels away from your stovetop.
- Clean food and grease from burners and stovetops regularly. These residues can provide fuel for an accidental fire.
- Keep a dry of foam fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Check the expiration date to be sure it is current.
- If a frying pan containing oil catches fire, DO NOT pour water on it. Carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the fire. Use a fire extinguisher if needed.
Other fire safety tips
- Place fire extinguishers on every level of the home and close to exits. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to use fire extinguishers.
- Practice the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique to put out the flames if your clothes catch fire. Cover your face with your hands while doing so/
- Don’t put combustible items like bedding, clothes, and curtains close to heat sources, such as portable heater and lit candles.
- Check electrical cords regularly and replace or repair frayed or loose cords. Never run cords under rugs or furniture to prevent damage and don’t overload electrical outlets. Don’t operate appliances or electric blankets that have frayed power cords.
- Never smoke in bed. You might fall asleep with the lit cigarette and, if it falls, the mattress and bedding can easily catch fire. Only smoke outside and when you’re wide awake.
- Teach your children that matches, lighters, and candles are not toys. Store matches and lighters in a secure drawer or cabinet.
Always keep burning candles within sight and extinguish them when you leave the room or go to bed. Place them away from materials that can catch fire.
If you’ve experienced a home fire, always hire a professional restoration company, such as PuroClean, to restore your property. PuroClean professionals are standing by to assist in property damage situations, such as those resulting from electrical, candle or cooking fires.