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Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

You don't have much time to react during a fire. Before you know it, a small spark can turn into an blazing inferno. Taking preventive measures and knowing what to do in the event of a fire can save your life.

Install smoke detectors

Smoke detectors greatly increase your chances of surviving a fire. Ideally, one should be installed in every room of your house (or at least on every floor). And be sure to test your smoke detectors at least twice a year and change the batteries regularly.

Have an escape plan

Make sure that you and your family know what to do in the event of a fire. Have at least two escape routes for each room and a predetermined meeting place well away from the house. Practice fire drills with your children.

Be careful with electricity

Don't overload extension cords and outlets, and adjust electrical wiring so it isn't in a high-traffic area or under a rug. Replace any frayed or cracked electrical wires.

Cook with care

When cooking, never leave anything on the stove unattended. Don't answer the phone if you won't be able to see your stove. If a fire should start, place a lid over it and turn off the burner. Be aware of loose clothing, such as long, loose sleeves or scarves that can catch fire from stove burners.

Extinguish cigarettes

Make sure that cigarettes are extinguished properly. Check underneath furniture and pillows for smoldering cigarettes. Get into the habit of emptying your ashtray into a can filled with water.

Keep matches and lighters away from children

Keep matches and lighters stored out of reach of children. If you smoke, purchase childproof lighters.

Be careful when using a fireplace or wood stove

Keep fireplaces and wood stoves clean, and have them inspected every year by a certified chimney specialist. When a fire is burning, always use a fireplace screen. And remember--never leave a fire unattended.

Use space heaters with care

Use space heaters only in well-ventilated rooms. Keep curtains, beds, clothing, paper, and any other combustible material at least three feet away from the heater. And remember to turn off a space heater when you leave the room.

Have a fire extinguisher

Have a fire extinguisher in your home, and make sure that everyone in your home knows where it is and how to use it.

Use fireproof construction on your home

If possible, use fireproof construction on your home. Brick, stone, and concrete are more fire resistant than wood construction. Fire-resistant materials for roofs include tile, slate, and metal.

If there is a fire . . .

Here are some steps you can take to ensure your safety during a fire:

  • Evacuate immediately: Don't try to save personal property and don't call for help until you're out of the house.
  • Call the fire department once you are safe: Don't try to contain the fire yourself, even if it seems like a small one.
  • Crawl, don't walk: Heat and smoke rise, so you're better off crawling to safety.
  • Feel doors for heat before you open them: If a door is very hot, keep it closed and place sheets or blankets against any openings.
  • Stop, drop, and roll: If your clothes should catch fire, stop, drop to the floor, and roll to put out the flames. This works very well in putting out the fire and reducing burns.
  • Know emergency phone numbers: In some locations, the emergency phone number is not 911. Find out the exact number to call, place it next to your phone, and commit it to memory.