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Fire safety practices save lives. Every year 6,000 Americans die in fires, and more than 100,000 people are injured. Most fire deaths occur in the home, and many could have been prevented. As smoke detectors and other fire prevention steps have become more common in recent years, the deaths and injuries from fires have decreased significantly.
After use, safely discard all rags or materials soaked in flammable material.
To understand the importance of fire prevention, be aware of the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly, and you have no . time to grab valuables or make a phone call. In two minutes a room can become life‑threatening. In five minutes your house can be engulfed in flames. A fire's heat and smoke are more dangerous than the flames ‑ inhaling the super‑hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep.
1. Install smoke detectors in your house or apartment. Working smoke detectors double your chance of surviving a fire.
Place smoke detectors on every level of your house: outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairways or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen.
Clean smoke detectors regularly and replace batteries once a year.
2. With your family, plan two escape routes from every room in the house.
Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. If you have security gratings on your windows, be sure they have a fire safety opening feature, so they can be easily opened from the inside.
Practice escaping from rooms with your eyes closed, since during a fire, the house will be filled with thick, black smoke.
Pick a place outside your home for the family to meet after escape.
3. Clean out storage areas. Don't let trash (such as old newspapers and magazines) accumulate.
4. Check electrical wiring:
Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
Do not overload extension cords or outlets; if you need to plug in two or three appliances, get a UL approved unit with built‑in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
5. Never use gasoline, benzine, naptha or similar liquids indoors.
Store them in approved containers and well‑ventilated storage areas.
Never smoke near these flammable liquids.
After use, safely discard all rags or materials soaked in flammable material.
6. Check heating sources. Many home fires are started by faulty furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts and chimneys with creosote build‑up. Make sure your home heating source is clean and in working order. Call professionals for help.
7. Alternative heating sources, such as wood, coal and kerosene heaters, should be used careful. Make sure that:
You check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community.
There is proper ventilation t outside.
Adequate space is left around heater.
The floor and nearby walls are properly insulated.
You use only the type of fuel designated for your unit and follow manufacturers' instructions.
You store ashes in a metal container outside and away from any buildings.
You keep walls, furniture, drapery and any flammable item away from open flame. Always keep a screen in front of the place.
8. Make sure that home insulation is not in contact with electrical wiring.
9. Know where your gas meter and central electrical panels are so you can shut them off in an emergency. If you shut off your gas line, allow only a gas company representative to turn it on again to make sure it is done properly.
10. Ask your local fire department if they will inspect your house for fire safety and prevention.
If you live in wildland areas - on remote hillsides, in valleys, prairies or forests where flammable vegetation is abundant - your house could be a target for wildland fire. Be prepared for these intense fires, triggered by lightning or accidents, that sweep through wildland areas:
3. Be prepared to evacuate. See the Evacuation page for detailed information about evacuation preparedness.
1. To put out a small fire, cut off its air or fuel supply, or use water or a fire extinguisher, but do not try to put out a fire which is getting out of control. Get everyone out of the house and call the fire department immediately.
2. Never use water on an electrical fire. Use only a fire extinguisher.
3. Oil and grease fires occur primarily in the kitchen. Smother the flames with baking soda or salt or put a lid over the flame, if it is burning in a pan.
4. If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.
5. Sleep with your door closed. If you wake up to the sound of a smoke detector, feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand before you open it.
If the door is cool, leave immediately Be prepared to bend low or crawl; smoke and heat rise, and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
If the door is hot, escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light‑colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters to your presence.
1. If you are the homeowner, see that holes in the house are covered against rain and that entry to your home can be secured. The fire department can assist you.
2. If you are a tenant, contact the landlord. It is the property owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site. Secure your personal belongings either within the building or by moving them to another location.
3. Contact your insurance agent about estimates and loss coverage.
4. Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, if you need temporary housing, food, eyeglasses or medicines which were destroyed in the fire.
5. Do not enter a fire‑damaged building unless authorities have given you permission.
6. When entering a building, be watchful for signs of heat or smoke ‑ they may signify smoldering remains of a fire.
7. Have an electrician check your household wiring before the current is turned back on. Do not attempt to reconnect any utilities yourself. Leave this to the fire department and other authorities.
8. Beware of structural damage. Roofs and floors may be weakened and need repair.
9. Discard food, beverages and medicines that have been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
10. Refrigerators or freezers left closed will hold their temperature for a short time. However, do not attempt to refreeze food that has thawed.
11. Beginning immediately after the fire, collect receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important for both insurance and income tax claims.
12. If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. A safe or fire proof box can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the entering air combined with the high internal temperature may cause the contents to burst into flames.
13. Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken. All damages are taken into consideration when developing your insurance claim.
14. If a building inspector says the residence is unsafe and you must leave your home:
Contact local police, who will watch the property during your absence.
Take with you identification; medicines, glasses or hearing aids; and valuables, such as credit cards, checkbooks, insurance policies, bank papers, jewelry and the like.
Notify friends, relatives, police and fire departments, your insurance agent, the mortgage company, utility companies, delivery services, employers, schools and the post office of your whereabouts.
People start most wildfires . . . find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety.
Contact your local fire department, health department or forestry office for information on fire laws. Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
Plan several escape routes away from your home ‑ by car and by foot.
Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors' skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can't get home.
Regularly clean roof and gutters.
Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Code 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
Use 1/2‑inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms: test monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept.
Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire‑resistant drapes.
Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it. Use fire resistant or non‑combustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling. Or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with UL‑approved fire‑retardant chemicals. Plant fire‑resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
|Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.|
|q||Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.||q||Clear a 10‑foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill‑use non‑flammable material with mesh no coarser than one‑quarter inch.|
|q||Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.||q||Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.|
|q||Thin a 15‑foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.||q||Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for two days, then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.|
|q||Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.||q||Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.|
|q||Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.||q||Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only UL‑approved wood burning devices.|
|q||Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.|
|q||Remove vines from the walls of the home.|
|q||Mow grass regularly.|
Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.
Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
Install freeze‑proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.
Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.
Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.
Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative's home outside the threatened area.
Wear protective clothing ‑ sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long‑sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
Lock your home.
Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.
Close windows, vents, doors, Venetian blinds or non‑combustible window coverings and heavy drapes. Remove lightweight curtains.
Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding‑glass doors.
Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
Seal attic and ground vents with pre‑cut plywood or commercial seals.
Turn off propane tanks.
Place combustible patio furniture inside.
Connect the garden hose to outside taps.
Set up the portable gasoline‑powered pump.
Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above‑ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.
Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home.
Gather fire tools.
When wildfire threatens, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy‑to carry containers such as backpacks, dufflebags or trash containers.
A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
One change of clothing and footwear per person and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
Emergency tools including a battery‑powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
An extra pair of eyeglasses.
Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Assemble a smaller version of your kit to keep in the trunk of your car.