When it comes to fire safety, there are a few important steps you can take to ensure you and your family are prepared in the case of an emergency.
It is important to make sure that your home is equipped with smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed outside of every bedroom or sleeping area. It is important to be sure that there is at least one alarm on every level of your home. This includes installing smoke alarms in non-living areas like basements or garages. When installing smoke alarms, it is important to keep them away from the kitchen area or bathroom as cooking smoke and shower steam can falsely trigger the alarm. Smoke alarm maintenance is extremely important. In 40% of fatal fires, smoke alarms were installed in the home but were not properly working or had dead or missing batteries. You should test your smoke alarms, by pressing the test button, every month, and change the batteries every 6 months. It is also important to change your smoke alarms at least once every 10 years.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon Monoxide is an invisible gas that has no smell, taste, or color. It is poisonous and can be fatal. Carbon Monoxide has almost the same density as air so you can safely place the detectors up near the ceiling or low to the ground. You can purchase a combination carbon monoxide/smoke detector or you can purchase a separate carbon monoxide detector that plugs directly into an electrical outlet. As with smoke alarm maintenance, it is important to ensure that the carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. You should test the alarm, by pressing the test button, every month, and change the batteries every 6 months.
Fire Evacuation Plan
It is important that your family has and emergency escape plan in place in the event of a fire. Even children as young as three years old can learn what to do in the event of a fire. Once a fire has already started, it will be too late to prepare everybody for a safe escape. You should draw up a floor plan of your home and come up with two possible safe escape routes. Once you have discussed the route, practice with your family. It may sound like a silly thing to do, having a fire drill in your home, but it will allow everyone to run through the escape routes and see what obstacles you may encounter. You could even set up obstacles for your family and make the drill fun. As always, ensure that everybody is walking quickly, but safely and in a calm manner to avoid any unwanted injuries.
Once you have come up with your escape route, pick a family meeting place somewhere outside of your home. This could be a safe place such as under a tree in the front yard, on the nearest street corner, or at the end of your driveway. Children should know that once they hear the sound of a smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm they should go outside right away to the chosen family meeting place. Even if it is false alarm, you want to reinforce the importance of taking the alarms and safety plans seriously.
You may want to purchase a fire extinguisher to have in the event of a small home fire, however the U.S. Fire Administration recommends that ONLY ADULTS trained in the proper maintenance and usage of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate. It is important to teach children that the extinguisher is not a toy. If you do have one in the home, it is best to keep it in a safe accessible area away from the reach of small children. Here are some tips on how to purchase, maintain and use an extinguisher properly.