Home Fire Safety Tips

Home Fire Escape Planning

Have a Family Meeting Place

like a mailbox, a tree or a neighbor’s home. This will help people to know if everyone made it out safely. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house and wait for them to arrive. Never go back inside a burning home for any reason. Firefighters are trained and equipped to do this. While kneeling, feel the crack between the door and its frame with the back of your hand and then reach up as high as you can go. If you feel any warmth do not open the door and use an alternate route. If the door feels cool, open the door with caution.

Plan your E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drill in the Home)

Sit down with your family and draw a floor plan of your home that clearly identifies two exits out of every room, especially bedrooms. Include stairways, doors, windows, decks and porches. Locate and identify a central meeting place outside the home. Plan today because when fire strikes there is no time to plan.

Install a smoke detector

Smoke detectors need to be installed in all bedrooms, in the hallway, on every level of your home including the basement. Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries in your smoke detector at least once a year. A good way to remember this is to change your batteries when you change your clocks with Daylight Savings Time. “Change your clocks, change your batteries.”

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement of the smoke detector itself.   Most smoke detectors have an expiration or recommended replacement date.

Practice makes perfect!

Hold realistic fire drills in your home regularly and have everyone participate. Practice various scenarios, like pretending that some of the exits are blocked, so that alternate routes need to be used. Speed is crucial, as fire can spread rapidly. Make sure everyone in the home can open doors and windows in the event of a fire. Security bars should be equipped with quick release devices from the inside and everyone including small children should know how to use them.

Test doors before opening them

Crawl low under smoke, as you exit the home. Smoke contains deadly gases and heat rises. Cooler, cleaner air is near the floor. By sleeping with your door closed it will act as a barrier to help protect you from smoke and fire.

In the event that you are trapped, close the door between you and the fire.While kneeling, feel the crack between the door and its frame with the back of your hand and then reach up as high as you can go. If you feel any warmth do not open the door and use an alternate route. If the door feels cool, open the door with caution.Stuff cracks under the door to keep smoke out and call 911 if there is a phone in the room. Wait at the window and signal for help.

Electrical Fire Safety

Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) would like consumers to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.

The Problem
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.

The Facts
December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom.

The Cause
Most electrical fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires.In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires. Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and record players.

Safety Precautions

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Whey buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.

Safe Winter Heating

With winter’s cooler temperatures come a higher number of fire hazards; hazards associated with the improper use of heating devices and fireplaces.

Electric Space Heaters
Keep space heaters 3 feet from furniture, bedding, clothing, walls, or other things that burn. Use only heaters that have been tested and approved by U.L. or another respected testing lab. Make sure your space heater has an automatic shut-off feature for tip-overs. Do not use heaters that have worn or frayed cords or plugs. Use electrical outlets conservatively. Remember that overloaded circuits can cause fires. Never use kerosene heaters inside a house.

Fireplace & Wood stoves
Have you chimney inspected by a professional annually and have it cleaned as needed. Always use a fire screen. Spark arresters are required. Never leave children unattended around a fireplace or wood stove. Be sure the fore is out before going to bed or away from the house. Never burn trash, Christmas paper or trees in your fireplace or wood stove. When cleaning out the ashes, place them into metal containers only, and dampen slightly. Never store discarded ashes inside or adjacent your home. Wood stoves require a 36″ clearance form combustible surfaces. Wood stoves should be U.L. approved and installed pursuant to all applicable codes.
Electric Blankets
Follow manufacture guidelines regarding proper use, maintenance and replacement. Never leave the blanket on high for any exceeded period. Never bunch or wad the blanket up, or fold it in a heap. Turning you blanket off when you turn your alarm off is a simple, safe habit. Upon rising, smooth the blanket out flat to avoid concentrating the heat. Small children, invalids or the elderly should never use electric blankets because these persons have decreased abilities to sense high heat.
Kitchen Stoves & Ovens 
Never use kitchen burners or the oven as heating devices. Remember that an electric burner, left on for extended periods, can reach a temperature of 1000 degrees, and can cause adjacent walls to ignite.