October is National Fire Prevention Month. For nearly 100 years, the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) has been calling national attention to the importance of fire prevention and emergency planning. This year’s theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” Did you know in a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. So this month, gather your family together to create and practice an escape plan. Check out our tips as well as more helpful resources from the NFPA below.
1. Planning Your Escape
Gather your family members and grab a piece of paper and a writing utensil. On the paper, write “Escape Plan” and draw a map of all the rooms in your home. For multiple story homes, you’ll need to draw each level separately. Work with your family to establish two exits from each room when possible, typically this means a window and a door and mark these on your maps. Then determine a path from each exit to the outside and mark this on the map as well. Be sure to also mark the location of each smoke detector. Establish an outdoor meeting place in front of your home and write it on the paper along with your local emergency services numbers and 9-1-1. Practice your escape plan regularly with your family. Check out this video from the NFPA for a breakdown.
2. Up in Smoke
Smoke alarms must be placed on each level of the home, in every sleeping room and outside each sleeping area. Pick a day of the month to walk through your home and test each smoke alarm (i.e. the first day each month). Change batteries as needed (at least once a year) and replace smoke alarms once they reach 10 years of age. Additionally, Carbon monoxide alarms must be placed on
each level of the home and replaced every 7 years.
3. Repair & Replace
Identify hazards in your home, completing regular maintenance or repairs as necessary.
– home heating sources
– electrical wiring (frayed extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs)
– broken, faulty or uncovered wires / electrical outlets
– appliances and electrical devices (driers, space heaters, coffee pots, etc.)
– properly store combustible materials and flammable household chemicals.
4. What’s Cookin’
Never leave pots and pans on your stovetop unattended while cooking food. Do not leave your home while baking or roasting food in your oven. Keep your work space clean and clear of things that can catch fire, such as pot holders, flammable substances, or paper towels. Regularly clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup. If a fire does break out while you are cooking on your stovetop, turn off the burner and grab the lid or a cookie sheet that you have handy and cover up the flames until they smother out. In the case of a small fire, you can douse the flames with baking soda, but the safest and most effective way to put out a grease fire is the use of a fire extinguisher. Never pour water on grease fires!
5. Furry Friends
Nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets. Never leave pets unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home. Remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house – a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire. Keep younger pets confined with crates or baby gates from potential fire hazards while you are away from your home. Additionally, consider keeping pet nears entrances while you are away and affix a pet alert window cling with the number of pets inside your home to a front window.
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