Fire Prevention at Home

October is Fire Prevention Month! Fire Prevention Month (and the week of October 9th – 15th) aims to raise fire safety awareness and help ensure your home and family are protected. In 1922, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) named Fire Prevention Week the second week of October, commemorating the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. 

  • 3 of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires with no working smoke alarms
  • Less than 50% of homeowners have an escape plan
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is the #1 cause of accidental poisoning in the US
  • 60% of consumers do not test their smoke and CO alarms monthly
  • Only 47% of people report having CO alarms in their home
  • Unattended cooking is the #1 cause of home fires

Fires are fast, hot, dark, and deadly. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a significant fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house to engulf it in flames. The heat from a fire is more threatening than the flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees on the floor and rise to roughly 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt your clothes. Fire starts bright, but it quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. A fire’s smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Everyone needs to get out as fast as possible when a fire starts. 

A well-developed and practiced fire escape plan might be the difference between life and death for those caught in a fire. Remember that every second counts in the event of a fire. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.  Practice your home fire escape plan twice each year. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room if the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be correctly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can get through the doorways.
  • Pick a meeting place outside in front of the home and away from the path any emergency vehicles may be taking. 

The best way to avoid a fire in the home is to take action to prevent it. The next best thing to do is to be prepared for a fire in the house. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Replace the batteries twice a year unless you are using 10-year lithium batteries. Ensure that smoke alarms are installed on every level of your home, including the basement. A rule of thumb is to replace the entire smoke alarm unit every ten years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember that the best course of action in a fire is to get out. When the smoke alarms go off, and you react to them, the fire may already be too big to fight with an extinguisher.

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