Now I remember learning about fire safety as a child in school, but for some reason those lessons are not always retained. Luckily, Candace Quinn's new book I Survived a House Fire...I Wish My Stuff Had is a great reminder of a luxury we all take for granted. Here is a quick and simple recap of fire safety from her book, fireSafety.gov and SafetySkills Basic Fire Safety course.
1. Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are the simpliest, easiest and most effective way to save lives in a fire. Unfortunately, 2/3 of deaths in a home fire are because the home did not have a working smoke alarm or a smoke alarm at all. In order to reduce your risk during a fire do as follows:
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home or business and near all sleeping areas.
- Replace batteries at least once a year and your smoke alarm every 10 years.
- Perform a monthly smoke alarm test.
- Avoid placing smoke alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows or ceiling fans.
2. Escape Plans
The next most vital part of fire safety is having an escape plan. All you need to do is think of every possible way to exit your home or business. Think of every alternative because the most likely exit may be blocked. Think of every door and window as a potential exit.
- Practice an escape plan from every room twice a year.
- Try to create 2 escape routes from each room.
- Practice your plan during both daylight and evening hours.
- Designate a specific meeting place away from the home.
- Designate one person to go to the nearby telephone to call the fire department.
3. Practice Fire Safety
Practicing fire safety is the best way to avoid a fire occurring in the first place. Fires can start anywhere and at anytime, so safe habits are always a good idea.
- Check all appliances and electrical equipment for frayed cords
- Never leave food unattended while cooking
- Have professionals regularly check heating and electrical equipment
- Never smoke a cigarette in bed or without an ashtray
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Install and routinely check smoke alarms
- Install fire escape ladders to rooms on upper levels
- Place fire extinguishers in kitchens and other locations with potential fire sources
- Install fire blankets
- Use electrical outlet covers on unused outlets
- Purchase home owners or rental insurance to protect valuables
- Keep documentation of all valuables - important paperwork, pictures, receipts - in a fireproof safe
- Install indoor fire sprinklers - commercial and residential
5. What to do After a Fire
- Contact your local American Red Cross, Salvation Army or other local disaster relief service to get temporary food, shelter and other necessities.
- Contact your insurance company and locate important documentation. Insurance usually covers all necessities during this difficult time, so know your coverage.
- Replace documentation and records if unable to recover.
- Find a support system to vent your feelings about your experience - friends, family, support groups, therapists, online forums, etc.