Nearly 3400 people died in
residential fires in the United States in 2002. In
nearly two-thirds of these fires, smoke alarms were
either missing or not working properly. Regardless of
the cause of fires, everyone needs to know how to
respond in case of fire:
Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your
home and outside of sleeping areas.
- Test every detector at least once a month. [See
your instruction book for the location of the test
- Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace
batteries with new ones at least once a year, or
sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.
- If you have a smoke detector directly wired into
your electrical system, be sure that the little
signal light is blinking periodically. This tells
you that the alarm is active.
- Inexpensive smoke detectors are available for
the hearing impaired.
They remain your best bet if you're on the spot when
a fire begins.
- Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the
kitchen, garage, and workshop.
- Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for
extinguishing all types of fires.
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before
there is an emergency.
- Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires
only. If there is a large fire, get out immediately
and call 911 from another location.
Thinking Ahead: Your Exit Plan
As with other things, the best motto is, "Be
- Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at
least two ways out of each room.
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the
event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke.
But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape
through another door or window.
- Easy-to-use window escape ladders are available
through many catalogues and outlet stores. For
instance, First Alert sells one for around $90.
- Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where
family members are to gather for a head count.
- Stay together away from the fire. Call 911 from
another location. Make certain that no one goes back
inside the burning building.
- Check corridors and stairways to make sure they
are free of obstructions and combustibles.
- To help cut down on the need for an emergency
exit in the first place, clear all unnecessary items
from the attic, basement, garage, and closets.