Fire Safety

   Well I am sure we can all agree that the best way to be safe with fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place. We can do this by being aware of some of the hazards we have in our home. I cant list all of them here as we all have different items because we all have different needs and desires. I will list a few though.
  • Make sure that all of the electrical cords in your home are safely secured and not fraying and they don't have breaks in the cord itself.
  • Don't overload a plug by having to many things plugged into one socket (i.e. Computer, TV, DVD, XBox, Stereo all plugged into the same plug).
  • Don't run your electrical wires under carpet or rugs.
  • Make sure that your lamps or lighting fixtures are not touching any cloth like drapes etc.
  • Supervise your children when they use any kitchen appliances.
  • Don't leave any candle or inscent unattended or where it can be easily tipped over.
  • Use caution when using heated blankets or portable heaters
I am sure you can add quite a few to this list but this is just a small portion to get your mind moving in the direction of taking safety precautions in your home.

   Now lets face it there is no way we can prevent all fires as some start from within the walls of the home, attics, lightning, fireworks, accidents, etc. The next thing we need to do is make sure we get out of the home safely. We need to come up with a plan. In 2010 there was an estimated 369,500 home structure fires and sadly they claimed 2,640 lives. 
   Fires can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as 2 minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning of either noticing the fire when it first starts, smoke alarms, and advanced planning - A home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with an has practiced.  

Facts and figures:

  • Only one-fifth to one-fourth of households (23%) have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan to ensure they could escape quickly and safely.
  • One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
Escape Planning
   Fire drills are important for all homes, including apartment buildings and other high-rise structures. You need to know the basics of escape planning, from identifying two ways out of every room to getting low and going under smoke, and the importance of practicing how you would respond in an emergency. Be aware that sometimes the safest thing you can do in a tall building fire is to stay put and wait for the firefighters.

Plan provided by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association):
  • Know the plan - Make sure that you're familiar with your building's evacuation plan, which should illustrate what residents are supposed to do in the event of an emergency. The evacuation plan should be posted in places where all residents can see and review it, and the building management should hold a fire drill with occupants at least once a year. Most states also require that buildings periodically test their fire safety systems as well.  Be sure to participate when your building drills take place. When looking for an apartment or high-rise home, look for one with an automatic sprinkler system. Sprinklers can extinguish a home fire in less time that it takes for the fire department to arrive.
  • Practice is key - Whether your building has one floor or 50, it's essential that you and your family are prepared to respond to a fire alarm. Identify all of the exits in your building and if you are using an escape planning grid, mark them on your escape plan. Make sure to mark the various stairways too, in case one is blocked by fire.
  • Never use the elevator - In case of fire, always use the stairs to get out, never the elevator. Make sure to practice using the stairs as part of your escape plan. If someone in your family has difficulty climbing down steps, make sure to incorporate a contingency for this into your plan.
  • Stay low - Smoke from a fire is toxic and deadly no matter what kind of structure you live in. When you hold your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to the exit. In the event of a fire, if both stairwells are filled with smoke, stay in your apartment and wait for the firefighters.
  • Seal yourself in for safety - If you can't exit an apartment building due to smoke or fire in the hallway, call the fire department to report your exact location and gather in a room with a window to await their arrival. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to create a seal around the door and over air vents in order to keep smoke from coming in.
  • Stay by the window - If possible, you should open your windows at the top and the bottom so fresh air can get in. Don't break the window - if smoke enters the room from outside the building, you won't be able to protect yourself.
  • Signal to firefighters - Wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

Stop, Drop and Roll
   You can make this a game! Be sure your child can do this without your help. Then do it every once in a while, just call out "Stop, Drop and Roll" Everyone in the house should then do it. Try to play this game from time to time to teach your child how to do it and to make sure that they will be able to do it in stressful situations without loosing thought in an emergency.
  • Explain to your child that there my be a time that a fire "gets on" their clothes. They are more likely to understand what it means when you tell them that a fire "gets on" their clothes then "catches on" etc.
  • Stop!, If fire ever "gets on" their clothes, they need to stop right where they are - don't run and tell mom or dad. After the fire is gone, then tell mom or dad what happened.
  • Drop!, Show your child how to cover their eyes with their hands then fall to the floor or ground. Tell them they don't have to look for a place on the floor that there isn't anything. It is more important to get the fire off of their clothes.
  • Roll!, Demonstrate rolling in a complete circle in one direction, and then do the same in the other direction. Have them count as you roll in each direction five times. then look to make sure there is no more fire.

Crawl Low Under Smoke
Smoke is normally the first sign of fire and it quickly gets thick and dark. It is important to stay under the smoke so you can see and breath while you crawl to safety. 

  • Crawl to safety with your child.
    • Again this can be done as a game. From time to time place an item that you can pretend is a fire in your home (or make a fake fire out of cardboard and paint it with your child as an art activity). When you come across this "fire" you can both get down on the floor and "crawl low under the smoke" to the safe place that you have in your escape plan. Practice this in different rooms in the home and practice often.

Fire Alarms
   You always want to make sure that you have Smoke Alarms (AKA Smoke Detectors) properly installed in your home. These can save your life in case of a fire. They can wake you up if you are asleep during a fire or they can warn you of a fire that broke out in a different part of the home allowing you enough time to safely evacuate the home. There are 2 types of Smoke Alarms that I will cover in this thread Hard Wired Smoke Alarms and Battery Powered Smoke Alarms.

Hard Wired Smoke Alarms - This smoke alarm is hardwired into the home's electrical system and usually has a backup battery
    • Test the alarm monthly.
    • The backup battery should be replaced at least once per year.
    • The entire smoke alarm unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
Battery Powered Smoke Alarms - There are two of these one is powered by a 9-Volt battery and the other is powered by a 10-Year Lithium (or "Long Life") battery.

  • 9-Volt Battery Smoke Alarm:
    • Test the alarm monthly.
    • Replace the battery at least once per year
    • The entire smoke alarm should be replaced every 8-10 years.
  • 10-Year Lithium (or "Long Life") Smoke Alarm:
    • Test the alarm monthly.
    • Since you cannot (and should not) replace the lithium battery, the entire smoke alarm should be replaced according to the manufacturer's instructions or upon a malfunction of the alarm which ever is sooner.
   Smoke Alarms should be placed inside every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home including the basement. The bigger the home the more alarms you will need. For best protection you should interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

   Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen area to avoid false alarms. Generally they should be placed about 10 feet away from a cooking appliance. An IONIZATION smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a PHOTOELECTRIC smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection both types of alarms should be used or a combination alarm (AKA Dual Sensor Alarm) are recommended.

According to NFPA
(National Fire Protection Association)

In reported home fires with smoke alarms: 
  • Half of the alarms were powered by battery only.
  • Two-Thirds of the fatal fire injuries were caused by fires in homes with smoke alarms powered by battery only.
In fires considered large enough to activate the alarm:
  • Hardwired smoke alarms operated 92% of the time.
  • Battery-powered smoke alarms operated in three-quarters (77%) of the fires.

Reasons That Smoke Alarms Did Not Operate
In reported home fires (2005-2009) in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate:
  • Half of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms.
  • Almost one-quarter (23%) of the smoke alarm failures was due to dead batteries.
  • Only 7% of the failures were due to hardwired power source problems, including disconnected smoke alarms, power outages, and power shut-offs.
  • 4% was lack of cleaning.
  • 3% was defective unit.
  • 3% was improper installation or placement.

Fact: The risk of dying in home structure fires is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.  

Fire Extinguishers
   A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.

Safety Tips:
  • Only use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is contained to a very small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone else should exit the building/home. The fire department should be called even if you think you can handle the blaze and only if the room is not filled with smoke as you do not want to risk it.
  • 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 that it is to difficult to handle.
  • 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 with its parts and operation before needing to use it on a fire. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often have hands-on fire extinguisher training's.
  • 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.
  • 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 a home fire escape plan ad working smoke alarms.

Carbon Monoxide
   Although the popularity of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms has been growing in recent years, it cannot be assumed that everyone is familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.

   Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Facts and Figures:
  • The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.
  • A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
  • In 2005, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 61,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of seven such calls per hour.  The number of incidents increased 18 percent from 51,700 incidents reported in 2003. This increase is most likely due to the increased use of CO detectors, which alert people to the presence of CO.
Here are a couple of Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms for you to look at:

This First Alert Alarm is a Combo Alarm for Smoke and Fire. It runs off of a 9-Volt battery and comes with a 10-yr limited warranty. (below)

This First Alert Alarm is a Combo Alarm for Smoke and Carbon Monoxide. It is a hardwired alarm with a 9-Volt battery backup. This alarm comes with a 5-yr limited warranty. (below)

These are just a few examples of alarms that are out there. You can find more alarms at your local hardware stores, Ebay and Amazon. Just make sure you choose the one that best fits your needs and you get enough to properly mount in your home for the best safety results.

Here is a great site for the little ones to play on and learn.


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