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Home Fire Safety

Fires and burns continue to be a major cause of unintentional injury death at home. Particularly at risk are the very young and the very old.

Fire Facts - Provided by the U.S. Fire Administration, National Safety Council, and National Fire Protection Association

  • 84% of all fire deaths occur in the home. Bedrooms are the leading location at 55% and they occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Having a working smoke detector more than doubles one's chances of survinving a fire.Fire Safety
  • Almost three of five (60%) of reported home fire deaths in 2007 to 2011 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • In 2010, adults age 45 or older had a greater relative risk of dying in fires that the general population. The elderly age 85 or older had the highest risk of fire death. The relative risk of fire injury was greatest for the 20 to 59 year olds, peaking for the 30 to 34 year olds. Males were 1.5 times more likely to die in fires than females.
  • Only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
  • On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day from 2007 to 2011.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2012, 8 home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 44 deaths.
  • Cooking is a leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.

Children Playing With Fire Facts/Safety Tips - Provided by the National Fire Protection Association

In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 44,900 fires that were started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire. These fires caused:

  • 90 civilian deathsChildren Playing With Fire
  • 890 civilian injuries
  • $210 million in direct property damage per year

Statistics

  • Half of home fires are started with cigarette lighters, 19% by matches, and 6% by candles.
  • Almost half (40%) of child-playing home structure fires begin in the bedroom.
  • The items ignited by home fire-play are principally mattresses, bedding, or clothing.
  • Two out of five outside fires are started by someone between the ages of 10 and 12.
  • July is the peak month for outdoor fire-play. Most of these fires involve fireworks during afternoon hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • 44% of home fires were started by a child between the ages of 4 and 6.
  • Males are more likely to engage in fire-play than females, as 83% of home structure fires and 93% of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys.

Safety Tips

  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.

  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children; they may imitate you.

  • If your child expresses curiosity about fire or has been playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults only.

  • Use only lighters designated with child-resistant features. Remember child-resistant does not mean child proof.

  • Teach young children and school-age children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.

  • Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place where children may go without supervision.

  • If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or unduly fascinated with fire, get help. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with trained experts.

Be Prepared

  • Discuss emergency procedures and hold practice drills with your family

  • Post and memorize emergency telephone numbers (including poison control)

  • Assemble and store a survival kitFire escape routes

  • Learn first aid

  • Establish a location where the family should reunite if separated

  • Choose a communication contact for extended family

  • Learn the emergency plans of the family's schools, day-care centers, clubs and workplaces

  • Tune to daily weather forecasts, radio and television stations will announce a WATCH if an emergency situation is expected, and a WARNING if it is imminent or in progress

  • Determine an evacuation route/alternatives

  • Know were main utility switches are located and learn how to turn them off if lines rupture

  • Consider installing home sprinklers

Home Fire Safety Checklist

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Smoke Detectors

  • One is definitely NOT enough! Every home should be equipped with smoke detectors on every level, particularly outside of sleeping areas. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. This gives everyone more time to escape.

  • Ensure that your smoke detectors are clean and tested monthly and batteries are replaced twice a year. Change batteries when you change your clocks. If an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace battery right away. If you can't reach the alarm, consider getting alarms that you can test with a flashlight or a television remote.

  • Encourage children to help test the smoke detectors. Familiarize them with the sounds of the alarm(s).

Buying A Smoke Detector

You can get them for less than 20 dollars apiece, and they can cut your family's risk of dying in a fire in half. But is one smoke detector better than another? Here are some details to consider:

  • Some are battery-operated and others run on electricity with a battery backup in case of a power failure.

  • If a smoke detector meets nationally recognized safety standards, it will display the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label.

  • There are two types of smoke detectors, either of which is equally efficient in detecting a fire. For the best protection, both types of alarms or a combination alarm (photoelectric and ionization) should be installed in homes.

    Those with photoelectric sensors - this type is quicker to detect slow-burning, smoky fires.
    Those with ionization sensors - these respond more quickly to faster, flaming fires.

  • If cooking fumes or steam will set off a nuisance alarm, purchase an alarm that has a "hush"button. A "hush" button will reduce the alarm's sensitivity for a short period of time. A "hush" button should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.

  • Smoke alarms that include a recordable voice announcement, in addition to the usual alarm sound, may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice.

  • Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These alarms use strobe lights. Vibration equipment can be added to these alarms.

Installing A Smoke Detector

  • Most areas of the country adhere to the National Fire Alarm Code,Installing a fire alarm
    which specifies placing smoke detectors on each level of an existing
    home. One of these should be placed near sleeping areas.

  • In new homes, smoke detectors must be electronic with battery backup.
    One is normally required to be placed outside or within each bedroom.
    Check with our local fire department to find out the specific fire codes
    in our area. Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must
    be installed by a qualified electrician.

  • Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer's instructions
    high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer's instructions for testing
    and maintenance.


Fire Extinguishers

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your kitchen (one rated for grease fires and electrical fires).

  • It's a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near the furnace, garage, and anywhere else a fire may start. These extinguishers are affordable, life-saving equipment for your home.

  • Make sure every able-bodied member of the family is trained and familiar with the proper way to use the fire extinguishers.

  • If you must use an extinguisher, make sure you have a clear way out in the event you can't put out the fire.

Flammables

  • Keep matches, lighters and candles out of reach and out of sight of children!

  • Smoking is dangerous! No one should ever smoke in bed. Make sure that cigarettes/cigars are extinguished properly before dumping ashes.

  • Avoid grease build-up in the kitchen and on appliances. Cooking fires are common. Don't leave food cooking on stove tops unattended.

  • If a fire should occur, suffocate it with a pot/pan lid or a cookie sheet, or close the oven door.

  • Around the holidays, Christmas trees are a primary concern. Consider using an artificial tree that is labeled "flame resistant." If you do use an evergreen, water it daily to keep it from drying out. Make sure to inspect stringed lights and window ornaments annually for deterioration.

  • Dispose of materials from fireplaces and grills in non-flammable containers.

  • Never put children to sleep in "day" clothes. Fire-retardant sleepwear can make a difference in burn outcomes.

Clothes Dryer Safety

Doing laundry is most likely part of your every day routine, but do you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.

  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.

  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.

  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.

  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.

  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.

  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.

  • Follow the manufacturer's operating instructions and don't overload your dryer.

  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

  • Dryers should be properly grounded.

  • Check the outdoor vent flap to make sure it is not covered by snow.

  • Keep the area around your dryer clear of things that can burn, like boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, etc.

  • Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.

Candles

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

  • Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won't tip over easily.

  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.

  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.

  • Don't burn a candle all the way down, put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.

  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.

  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles. Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.

  • Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children's reach, in a locked cabinet.

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Electrical Safety And Heat Sources Electrical heating source

  • Make sure your electrical system is not being over-taxed. This can cause a fire. Do your lights dim or flicker when extra appliances are plugged in? Check electrical outlets. Do not overload outlets. If you have questions or concerns, consult a certified electrician.

  • Inspect wires. If you find any worn or exposed wiring from appliances, discontinue their use immediately! A fire is imminent!

  • Space heaters can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure yours will automatically shut off if tipped over. Consult the operating instructions to make sure you are using space heaters, gas fire places, and other heat sources as intended by the manufacturer. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, wood burning stoves or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

  • Keep all flammable materials at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

  • Have a three foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.

  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

  • Chimney fires are common. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually.

  • Keep appliances unplugged when not in use.

Grilling Safety

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

  • Keep your grill clean be removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal Grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane Grills

  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.

  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Cooking Safety Cooking

Cooking brings family and friends together, provides an outlet for creativity and can be relaxing, but did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries? By following a few safety tips you can prevent these fires.

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don't use the stove or stove top.

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

  • Keep anything that can catch fire - oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from your stove top.

  • Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

If You Have A Cooking Fire

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

  • Call 9 -1-1.

  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

  • Keep a lid nearby when you're cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire
    by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it
    is completely cooled.

  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Escaping A Fire

Plan ahead. If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

  • Keep bedroom doors shut while sleeping. If you think there is a fire, feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand or touch the knob for heat before opening. If it is hot, do not open the door. Find another way out.

  • Draw a map - one that's easy for all members of the family and visitors to understand.

  • Make sure to practice your escape plan periodically. It will be easier to remember in case of an emergency.

  • Have an escape route for each area of the home and a designated meeting place outside (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.

  • When planning for a family with young children, be sure to teach them not to hide from fire or smoke and to go to firefighters who are there to help them.

  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them.

  • Close doors behind you as you leave.

  • All children should be familiar with the ideas of "crawling underneath the smoke" to escape a fire. Always stay low to the ground when escaping from a fire, get low and go under the smoke to your way out. "Stop, drop, and roll" is another safety principle that must be ingrained into children's minds.

  • Multi-storied buildings are of special concern. Ensure that everyone is familiar with how to use an escape ladder if necessary. Have a collapsible ladder on each floor of your house.

  • Make sure every room has two means of escape in the event of a fire. Windows provide a secondary means of escape. Ensure they are in proper working order, are not painted shut, and guards are able to be disengaged in case of fire and escape is necessary through that window. Practice using different ways out.

  • Keep a whistle in each bedroom to awaken the household in case of fire.

  • Everyone must understand that once you escape, you must never re-enter a burning building - no matter what you might have left behind.

  • Call emergency responders (911) from outside your home at a neighbor's house.

  • Young children should know their street address and last name (and, of course, how to dial 911).

  • After you've planned for the family, don't forget the pets. Alert firefighters about your pets. Don't rely on window or door decals to alert firefighters - such decals are often found to be outdated. In the event your pet suffers from smoke inhalation, rush the animal to the vet.

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Please take the time and ink to make a copy of this checklist, use it in your home and pass it on to a friend!

Home Fire Safety Checklist
You can help prevent fires. Use this checklist. If you can answer YES to every question your home is fire safe, but if you answer NO to any question - get busy and correct the condition!
Matches And Careless Smoking Hazards
Do you keep matches away from sources of heat such as kitchen ranges or heaters?
Yes
No
Do you make sure matches and smoking materials are out before disposing of them?
Yes
No
Do you have plenty of large, noncombustible ashtrays in every room?
Yes
No
Is "No Smoking in Bed" a rule in your home?
Yes
No
Are all members of your family careful never to smoke when working around flammable liquids?
Yes
No
Electrical Hazards
Do you allow only qualified electricians to install or extend your wiring?
Yes
No
Are there enough electrical outlets in every room to avoid the need for multiple attachment plugs and long extension cords?
Yes
No
Do you have special circuits for heavy duty appliances such as kitchen ranges or clothes dryers?
Yes
No
Do you replace blown fuses with fuses of the same size?
Yes
No
Are all extension and appliance cords checked frequently to make sure they are not worn or frayed, and are loose prongs or plugs checked and replaced if found defective?
Yes
No
Do you buy only appliances and equipment that are labeled by Underwriters Laboratories?
Yes
No
Are all electrical cords in the open - not run under rugs, through doorways or partitions, or over hooks, radiators, heaters, pipes, or ducts?
Yes
No
If your house has aluminum wiring, has a qualified electrician determined that it is properly installed and that there are no loose connections which could cause overheating?
Yes
No
Are irons or similar appliances unplugged when no one is present?
Yes
No
Housekeeping Hazards
Do you keep your basement closets and attic cleared of old rags, papers, mattresses, broken furniture and other combustible odds and ends?
Yes
No
After using oily polishing rags or waste, do you destroy them or place them in covered metal cans?
Yes
No
If you store paint, varnish, etc., do you keep the containers tightly closed?
Yes
No
Has everyone in your family been warned never to use gasoline, benzene, or other flammable fluids for cleaning clothes, furnishings, appliances, floors, or anything else indoors?
Yes
No
Heating And Cooking Hazards
Before the heating season begins, do you have your heating system inspected and serviced?
Yes
No
Are all the flue pipes, vent connectors, gas vents and chimneys inspected each fall, and cleaned and repaired as necessary?
Yes
No
Have you eliminated all vent connectors and flue pipes that pass through attics, floors, and ceilings?
Yes
No
Are wood floors under stoves and heaters protected by insulation or ventilated air space?
Yes
No
Is your wood stove properly installed and protected against igniting nearby combustibles including the floor, walls, and ceiling?
Yes
No
Is every fireplace equipped with a sturdy metal fire screen?
Yes
No
Is your portable heater kept away from stairways and doorways where someone might accidentally trip or fall on it or knock it over?
Yes
No
Do you always turn off portable or gas heaters before you go to bed?
Yes
No
Since gas and oil heaters use up oxygen as they burn, do you always keep a window slightly open in any room where such a heater is being used?
Yes
No
Do you always refill the fuel tank of your oil heaters and oil stoves outdoors and in daylight?
Yes
No
Do you see that every portable heater is placed well away from curtains, bedding, furniture, and other combustible materials?
Yes
No
Are the gas connections for portable heaters or other gas appliances made of metal?
Yes
No
Has everyone in your family been warned never to use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquids to start a fire in the kitchen range, fireplace, furnace, or charcoal grill?
Yes
No
Are charcoal grills always used outside to prevent toxic gases and vapors produced by the charcoal from building up to dangerous levels?
Yes
No
Does your family know that when grease, fat, lard, or cooking oil overheats, it will smoke just before catching fire, and the heat should be turned down?
Yes
No
If a grease, fat, lard, or cooking oil fire starts on your stove, does your family know not to use water to put it out, but to either smother the fire by covering the pot with a lid or to use a dry chemical extinguisher?
Yes
No
Is your kitchen range, including the oven broiler, kept clean of grease?
Yes
No
Are curtains near kitchen ranges and heating equipment arranged so as not to blow over them?
Yes
No
Has everyone in your family been told the hazard of wearing loose fitting shirts, blouses, pajamas, robes, etc. near a kitchen range where they could be ignited by the burners?
Yes
No
Are your over counter cabinets at least 30 inches from the stove or 24 inches from a metal ventilating hood?
Yes
No
Does your families everyday cooking habits include not leaving food unattended and keeping pot handles turned in from the stove's edge?
Yes
No
Are cookies, cereal, or other "bait" stored away from the stove to prevent children from getting burned trying to reach such items overhead?
Yes
No
Is your portable heater set level and does it have a safety switch which will turn it off automatically if accidentally tipped over?
Yes
No
Does your family know that a fire in the oven of your stove can be extinguished by closing the door and turning off the heat, or by using a dry chemical type extinguisher?
Yes
No
Fire Equipment
Do you have at least one smoke detector (labeled by a nationally recognized fire testing laboratory) installed on each habitable floor, and is it tested and maintained regularly following manufacturer's recommendations?
Yes
No
Do you have at least one fire extinguisher that is listed or approved by a nationally recognized fire testing laboratory for use on all types of fires?
Yes
No
Have all extinguishers been checked and/or recharged according to instructions on the nameplate?
Yes
No
Do you know how to operate the extinguisher(s) and are the fire extinguishers in a convenient location for quick and easy use?
Yes
No
Yard And Garage Hazards
Do you keep your yard clear of leaves, debris, and combustible rubbish?
Yes
No
If any of the surrounding property is vacant, have weeds, dry leaves, and rubbish been cleared off?
Yes
No
If you keep gasoline for use in a power mower or outboard motor, is it stored in a strong metal can with self closing lids on the openings, and labeled by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories?
Yes
No
Is gasoline stored in a well ventilated area away from ignition sources - preferably in a garage or tool shed?
Yes
No
If your garage is attached to the house, is it separated by a tight-fitting door which is kept closed?
Yes
No
Special For Parents
Do you keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children and teach the older kids how to use them safely?
Yes
No
Do you leave a responsible person with your children when you go out, even for a little while?
Yes
No
When you employ babysitters, do you instruct them carefully what to do in case of fire?
Yes
No
Important: A child learns by example as well as by instruction. In regard to fire safety, do you always set a good example?
Yes
No
Are all children (sizes 0 - 14) provided with flame-retardant sleep wear?
Yes
No
Have you taught your children the recommended procedure to use for extinguishing clothes on fire (DO NOT RUN - STOP, DROP, AND ROLL)?
Yes
No
In Case of Fire
Do you know what number to call in any emergency?
Yes
No
Do you keep a list of emergency phone numbers posted and updated?
Yes
No
In the event you have to call the fire department, do you make sure that you give your complete address and tell the dispatcher if you think there maybe someone trapped in the building?
Yes
No
Have you worked out a plan of escape from every room in your house, especially the bedrooms?
Yes
No
Have you practiced that escape plan by holding fire drills in your home?
Yes
No
Other Considerations
If you use candles or oil burning lamps, do you make sure that they and their holders are in good condition before each use and they are located away from combustible materials?
Yes
No
Does your family refrain from using highly flammable aerosols around open flames or while smoking?
Yes
No
If any member of your family are disabled or handicapped, have special measures been taken to assure they are warned of fire and assisted in their escape?
Yes
No
Are important documents such as deeds, wills, stock certificates, and marriage licenses stored in a fire resistant safe in your home or safety deposit box outside the home?
Yes
No
Are you satisfied that your home is safe from fire for you and your family?
Yes
No

If you have any questions, please call the Fire Department at (701)662-3913 or (701)662-8122.

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