Fires can become a danger in a matter of seconds. Warnings from a smoke alarm and having a plan in place are the best ways to ensure you and your family will stay safe and avoid danger. The beginning of the year is a great time to review and practice your family’s fire safety plan. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to get started.
Check for Equipment
- Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home, in basements, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. Consider installing interconnect smoke alarms that will all sound when one sounds.
- Alarms should be tested at least once a month. Batteries will need to be replaced yearly. Schedule a specific time each year or replace when the chirping reminds you the battery is low. Non-replacement 10-year lithium batteries are the exception to this rule.
- Smoke alarms older than 10 years old should be replaced.
- Fire extinguishers can be helpful when putting out small fires. It is recommended to have several fire extinguishers placed strategically in your home for quick use.
- Be sure you know how to operate your extinguisher properly. Check your extinguisher regularly and get it tested by a professional every few years.
Make a Plan
- It is recommended that you make a plan with all the members of the household, even small children if possible. Visit all the rooms in the home. Find two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Consider drawing a map where you can mark all exits and escape routes along with where fire alarms are located.
- Check that all doors and windows open easily for escape access.
- Be sure fire alarms are installed and checked often.
- Pick a place your family will meet outside. It should be somewhere outside the front of the home. It could be the mailbox, a light post, or a neighbor’s house. Mark the location on your fire plan map.
- Go outside and check to see if your address is easily visible from the street. Consider painting the address number on the curb to ensure visibility should emergency personnel be called.
- Learn the emergency phone number for the fire department.
- If a fire does occur, get out, stay out, and call for help. Never go back inside for anyone or anything.
Practice Your Plan
- Practice your escape plan twice a year. Make it as realistic as possible.
- Practice with children so they can master the fire plan before you do a mock drill. The practice is not meant to frighten children, but to empower them. You can let them know beforehand that you will be doing a drill.
- During the drill determine what may need to be changed in your plans. Remember to stay low and close doors on the way out to slow the spread of fire, giving more time to escape.
Safety is everything when it comes to family. We can’t always prevent emergencies, but we can do our best to plan for them. Get your fire safety plan in place and practice it often.
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