There are several fire safety tips that every homeowner should be aware of when owning a home.
In as little as 2 minutes, a home fire can become life threatening; in under 5 minutes a residence can be engulfed in flames. This means that a family has between 120 to 300 seconds to evacuate their home safely when there is a fire. A smoke alarm gives that family those precious few minutes to flee to safety.
Some helpful tips for using and maintaining smoke alarms include:
- Be sure to install smoke alarms on every level of a home, including basements and attics.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside of sleeping areas.
- Test the smoke alarms every month
- Install dual sensor alarms which contain both ionization and photoelectric capabilities.
- Install non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries if possible. If not, replace the batteries in both battery and hard-wired smoke alarms yearly.
- Replace all smoke alarm units at least once every decade.
Fire Escape Plan
Before a fire becomes a reality, have a fire escape plan in place. Practice this plan with family members twice a year so everyone knows where to go when escaping a fire. For family members with special functional or access needs, local fire departments are a wealth of knowledge on obtaining vibrating or flashing smoke alarms.
Some additional tips to include in a fire escape plan:
- Discuss two different ways to escape a room.
- Check that all windows are able to open or that security bars can be opened properly.
- Practice the plan with eyes closed so that it is familiar to escape when smoke blocks vision.
- Teach children not to hide in closets and to not hide from firefighters.
Additional Fire Safety Tips
- Sleep with doors closed.
- Contact the local fire department for training on how to properly use and maintain a fire extinguisher.
- Make digital copies of all valuable documents and keep them in a separate place or in a fireproof
- Consider the installation of a fire sprinkler system.
- For older adults or those with functional needs, place their room near an exit on the ground floor.
Preventing Home Fires
Experiencing a home fire is a frightening and harrowing experience for most people. After a fire, disaster relief services, such as The Red Cross, can help with temporary housing, food, and even medicines. However, prevention is the ultimate way to avoid a tragedy. Some areas to be particularly aware of where a fire can start include:
- Kitchen – When cooking, never leave the stove unattended, even for a short period of time.
- Smoking – Don’t smoke around oxygen tanks, in bed, or if you have taken medicines or alcohol that may make you sleepy.
- Electrical and Appliances – Be sure to check for frayed wires when plugging in electrical items. If lights flicker, immediately shut them off and have a professional check the wiring or replace the light switches.