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 button.]
- 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 Prepared."
- 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.