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Fire Safety Measures

Fires are the leading causes of home injury and death. Consider:

  • Approximately one-half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms.
  • Most residential fires occur during the winter months.
  • Alcohol use contributes to an estimated 40% of residential fires.
  • Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.
  • Cooking is the primary cause of home fires.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.

Here's another fact: Despite a fire alarm's piercing sound, children, teenagers -- even some adults -- can sleep through it. For this reason, it's important to teach everyone in your home how to escape a late-night fire.

This checklist can help you spot fire hazards in your home. It will also help you prepare your family to quickly escape a fire:

Smoke Detectors

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  • Put smoke alarms/detectors in strategic locations in your home, such as the kitchen, near bedrooms, and near fireplaces or stoves. Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors once a year. Check your alarm twice a year. A good way to remember: when daylight saving and standard time change each spring and fall.
  • For people with hearing impairments, special smoke alarms with strobes and/or vibration are available. You can buy these online and through local fire equipment distributors.
  • Install new smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or older (sooner if one is damaged or not working).

Fire Prevention Strategy

  • Keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen and have it checked yearly. Learn how to use it. Put out food or grease fires in a pan with a lid or another pot.
  • Teach children safety rules for matches, fires, electrical outlets, electrical cords, stoves, and chemicals. Keep matches and flames, such as candles or lanterns, out of the reach of children.
  • Buy children's sleepwear made of flame-retardant fabric. Dress children in flame- and fire-retardant clothing. Older adults need to be careful about wearing clothing with loose material that could catch on fire.

Family Fire Drills

  • Know the emergency number for your fire department; 9-1-1 is in place in most communities, but not all. Remember to get out first if there is a fire, then call for help once safely outside.
  • Teach children who are old enough to understand to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches on fire so they can help put out the flames and avoid serious burns.
  • Let children help plan a fire escape route. Choose a meeting place outside the home where everyone will gather, and be sure they know never to go back inside a burning building.
  • Teach children to always keep stairways and exits clear of furniture, toys, and other obstructions that could slow your escape.
  • Practice using your escape route in family fire drills at least twice a year. Make sure babysitters know the route, too.
  • Practice what it would be like to escape through smoke by getting down on hands and knees and crawling below the smoke to the nearest exit. Cooler air will be near the floor.
  • Once kids have mastered the plan, hold a drill while everyone is sleeping. This will let you know if they will wake up or sleep through the smoke alarm. Even those who wake up may be groggy or move slowly.

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