Fire Prevention Week October 6-12

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Fires cause an estimated 3,500 deaths and nearly $4 billion in property damage in the United States annually — much more than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Yet many people ignore common fire hazards in the home and don’t prepare themselves or family members for this more common catastrophe.

Set aside some time and effort to protect your home from a devastating blaze with some safety tips.

In this fun, animated video, Rover the Home Safety Hound and Freddie Flashlight teach children to stay away from things at home that might cause fire and burns.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are required by your insurance. Since most fires start between midnight and 4 a.m., the key to survival is being awake and alert. Working smoke detectors can save members of your household. Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. They are a critical first step for staying safe, but in order to be effective, they have to be working properly.
• Install at least one smoke detector on each floor and one near each bedroom area.
• Check detectors regularly to make sure they are working.
• Change the batteries twice each year. An easy way to remember is to put in fresh batteries when you change the clocks in the spring and fall.

This segment from NBC’s TODAY Show may surprise some parents, as it shows how kids can sleep right through the sound of a smoke alarm.

You can increase your chances of survival by creating a home escape plan and rehearsing it regularly. An escape plan should include multiple routes for leaving the home quickly with a designated spot for family members to meet.

Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

Do you have a fire escape plan? Have you practiced lately?

Fire Extinguishers

The use of a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can be a life and property saving tool. However, a majority of adults have not had fire extinguisher training and may not know how and when to use them. Fire extinguisher use requires a sound decision making process and training on their proper use and maintenance.

Buffer Home Heaters

  • Most home fires are started by home heating equipment. Use caution and common sense when using propane, electric or other home heating equipment.
  • Keep flammables, such as drapes and furniture, away from space and portable heaters.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to regularly clean and inspect the chimney.
  • Inspect heating equipment regularly for proper design, installation and operation.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions when installing and filling liquid- and gas-fueled heaters.
  • Never leave auxiliary heating equipment unattended.

While prevention is the best protection against fires, precautions can be taken to protect possessions. A fire resistant safe or filing cabinet can help protect important documents like deeds, mortgages, titles for cars and birth certificates. Computer disks, home videos and family photographs can also be kept safe this way — if you’re using a safe specifically designed for such heat-sensitive items. For added protection, make duplicates and store the copies away from home in a secure location.

And be sure to have Identity Theft protection to provide protection after a disaster when looting is a frequent problem.

Cook Up a Safe Place

Most home fires start in the kitchen. To protect your home and family:

  • Keep the stove clean and free of grease.
  • Keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward.
  • Keep all flammable material (including shirt sleeves) away from burners.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires nearby.
  • Never store flammable liquids in the kitchen.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.

This year, the focus is on the kitchen so it’s the perfect time to teach your little chefs how to be safe in kitchen. For example, even though it can be convenient, it’s not safe to hold a child while cooking. Instead, move a high chair in the kitchen within sight before you start.

Household appliances are another common cause of fires. Many people feel invulnerable from electrical fire hazards, thinking the rules don’t apply to them. Don’t make the same mistake and instead connect with these warnings:

  • Don’t overload wall outlets.
  • Don’t use fuses rated too high for your home’s circuits.
  • Don’t use frayed electrical cords.
  • Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furniture.

Here are a few more safety tips.

Protect your home from a chimney fire

The fireplace may be a happy spot for the family to gather ‘round. But did you know that fireplaces and chimneys caused 27,200 residential fires in the United States in 2008—and that those blazes caused $147.6 million in property damage and 10 fatalities?1

Statistics like these drive home the importance of scheduling an annual chimney inspection. An inspector can check for one big culprit of chimney fires—creosote, which is a thick, gummy substance that’s a byproduct of burning wood.

Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) for additional information and resources regarding Chimney Safety. To locate a CSIA-certified chimney sweep in your area, check out the CSIA home page.

Carbon Monoxide

Fuel-powered devices can provide wonderful benefits to families when used properly. But they also underscore an important necessity in the home: the need for a carbon monoxide alarm.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or cars left running in garages. At its worst, carbon monoxide can cause severe side effects or even death.

Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide because of their smaller bodies. Children process carbon monoxide differently than adults, may be more severely affected by it, and may show signs of poisoning sooner.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness.

Halloween Fire Safety

Halloween is a fun holiday but it’s also an important time to practice fire safety. The occurrence of fire increases around Halloween due to arson and the use of candles as decorations.

Holiday & Christmas Tree Fire Safety

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

This video done by the NIST shows a VERY DRY Christmas tree on fire in a room. It takes a little over 30 seconds for the room to flashover. Keep your tree watered. Once it ignites (short circuit of a strand of lights, direct flame, etc) it will become a fully developed fire very fast and extend to the rest of the structure very quickly.

Personal Property

A house fire is traumatic enough.  Not having a good record of your belongings can only add to the misery.  Keeping a home inventory of the items you have and their values will help you when the rebuilding starts.  There are free downloads available from the Insurance Information Institute to serve as a guide to homeowners in order to have record after a loss.

A few simple steps can help when taking inventory: Don’t put it off.  Start with new items and their value, and then try to remember older items.  An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all. Use your camera.  Take pictures or video of your home and write down descriptions to go with it. Keep it safe.  Be sure to keep the inventory in a secure place, such as a fire box or safe deposit box.

Free inventory software