08-17-2012 12:32 PM
Preparation is the key to fire safety. There are many steps you can take to minimize the chance of home fires, learn quickly that danger is present, and take action to keep your family safe.
■ Find and remove fire hazards in your home.
Try a Fire Hazard Hunt! Look at the chart below and see how many fire hazards you can find in your home. Have the whole family go on a search!
■ Detect smoke, fire, or carbon monoxide in your home.
Even with every effort to prevent fires, if you have one it’s best to discover it ASAP!
Did you know that having working smoke alarms cuts by half the risk of you or a family member dying in a home fire? Put another way, almost 2/3 of home fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms. In addition, carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. CO is also something we cannot see or smell, and special detectors are needed to warn us of dangerous levels. It sure seems to make sense to install both types of detectors and keep them working.
Smoke, fire and CO detectors can save your life.
Today, nine out of 10 homes have smoke alarms installed. However, millions of them do not work due to age or dead batteries. Solutions to this include new smoke alarms that come with lithium batteries that last the life of the alarm, up to 10 years, and hardwired alarms that use 120v power with a battery backup.
Where should they be installed?
You should put at least one of each on every level of the home, up fairly high on the walls or on the ceiling. Keep them 3 feet or more away from heat registers, and out of corners. Check that the alarms work once a month and replace batteries at least once per year.
■ Extinguish fires using a fire extinguisher.
Home Depot carries a wide variety of home fire extinguishers. See this link for options. For the home, it’s often best to choose models that fight all types of fires. These fires are denoted as types A, B and C.
A: For ordinary combustibles like paper, wood, and most plastics.
B: Liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil.
C: Electrical fires. Class C extinguishers use non-conductive agents.
There is one exception for the home. Residential kitchen range fire extinguishers are for small contained cooking oil fires such as pots, skillets and griddles. These are special use fire extinguishers and are not identified by a common fire class (ABC or BC). The white model shown above is for kitchens only.
Put fire extinguishers on every level of the home, including the kitchen garage and basement. When possible, try to put them on the way to or at an exit from each area.
How to use a fire extinguisher? Here are the 4 steps:
1. Pull the pin.
2. Aim the nozzle low, at the base of the fire.
3. Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
4. Sweep the nozzle from side to side across the base of the fire.
■ Plan to escape fires using a fire escape plan and fire escape ladders.
The most important time in escaping a fire is BEFORE the fire has started. Make a fire escape plan and practice it regularly so that everyone is prepared if a fire starts.
What should you do if you hear a fire alarm in your house:
• Feel doors – If escaping through a closed door, feel the door with the back of a hand before opening it. If it is warm, use the second exit you have planned out.
• Look for smoke – If there is no alternative to an exit through smoke, crawl low to the exit. Remember, the best air is 1-2 feet above the floor.
• Avoid elevators – Never use an elevator during a fire.
• Block fire from spreading – Close doors behind you while escaping to delay the spread of fire.
Once out, stay out – Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.
Thanks for listening, and let's be safe out there!
I'm a Home Depot Store Associate, trained and authorized to help people on the Internet.