October is National Fire Prevention Month, which makes it the perfect time to think about your home and your family and spend a little time to ensure you are doing everything you can to be prepared in case of a fire at your home. Housefires caused an average of 2,560 deaths per year from 2012-2016 and almost 12,000 injuries per year according to the National Fire Prevention Association. While preventing fires is a great goal, it’s unlikely all fires can be prevented. Having a plan in place that all members of your family are familiar with is the greatest thing you can do to protect your family. Homes can be rebuilt but the loss of lives can’t be undone so these steps will help keep you safe in case the unthinkable happens.
The very first thing you should do to prepare your household in case of a fire is to ensure you have smoke detectors installed throughout your home. At a minimum, there should be one in every bedroom and one on each floor of your home. Near bedrooms are most important locations to give you time to get out of the home if you are asleep but since you could nap in other areas of your home, don’t stop there. Once your smoke detectors are installed, make sure to test them regularly so you know they work in case of a fire. Changing the batteries each year when the time changes is a good way to make sure they work when you need them most. Just as important is to test those smoke detectors every week to make sure the batteries are still good and that the device is operating normally.
In the case of a fire, the most important thing is to get out of your home as fast as you can. The danger is not just from the actual flames, but the atmosphere the fire creates, as it consumes oxygen and gives off deadly gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Because you should get out as quickly as possible, you must prepare an evacuation plan ahead of time that allows you to escape and gather in a safe place with your family. You plan should have at least two ways to evacuate so you have an alternative in case your original path isn’t accessible. Have a family member designated to call 911 as soon as possible.
The leading cause of home fires and injuries since 1990 is cooking and most cooking fires happen when kitchen ranges and ovens are left unattended. The second leading cause of house fires is heating equipment, which must be cleaned properly and checked annually. The other common causes of fires are smoking materials, electrical appliances and candles.
If you live in a home with a second level, you should consider purchasing ladders that attach to the windows in case you aren’t able to leave your bedroom. Make sure you discuss all of this with your family to make sure everyone knows just what to do in an emergency situation. For much more information on fires, make sure to check out the fire prevention information on the National Fire Protection Association website.
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