Prepare Before a Fire

How safe is your household? Somewhere in America, a home fire occurs roughly every 85 seconds. Most importantly, every two and a half hours someone is killed in a home fire, this includes an average of three children per day.

Most victims of fire succumb to the smoke and toxic gasses - not to burns. The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 2 am and 4 am - when most people are asleep. In the U.S. Between 75 and 80% of the deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms. Although smoke alarms are present in over 94% of American homes, nearly 25% of those do not work, mostly due to worn or missing batteries, leaving over 16 million homes at needless risk.

The saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." is definitely true for fires. Follow these steps to make sure your home and family are safe from fire.

Fire Prevention & Safety

  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level, and ensure that burglar bars and other anti-theft mechanisms that block outside window entry are easily opened from the inside.
  • Clean out storage areas. Do not let trash, such as old newspapers and magazines, accumulate.
  • Check electrical cords for fraying.
  • Keep flammable objects away from possible sources of ignition (including stove tops, furnaces, and water heaters).
  • Teach children not to play with matches.
  • Don't smoke in bed.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to call 911, even young children.
  • Teach family members to move low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire).
  • Install smoke detectors.
    • Properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by half.
    • Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence. Place them inside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall (4 to 12 inches from ceiling), at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs, and near (but not in) the kitchen.
    • Test and clean smoke alarms once a month.
    • Keep alarms clean by dusting and vacuuming any cobwebs.
    • Replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.
  • Install A-B-C type fire extinguishers in your home and instruct all adults and older children how to use them.