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What is Your Plan to Stay Safe?

Your ability to get out of your home during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and Advanced escape planning

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once a smoke alarm sounds. That is if your alarms are working!  Check your alarms monthly.  Smoke alarms should be present in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. You should have alarms on every level of the home. Bring everyone in your household together and “Make a Plan.” Walk through your home and inspect all the possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.

Here are some simple planning tips:

Bring together everyone in your household and create an emergency escape plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.  Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear, and doors and windows can be opened easily. You may have to use your escape when it’s at night in the dark or the room is filled with smoke.

Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.

  • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
  • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbor’s home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
  • If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Emergency release devices won’t compromise your security – but they will increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
  • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan. If they do not have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend “sleepovers” at friends’ homes.
  • Once you are out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.
  • Regularly “Fire Drill” you plan so everyone will stay fresh on what to do if the emergency occurs.

Download the “Clear Your Escape Routes” brochure in English or Spanish.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms often are reviewed together. Please know that this clear, colorless, and odorless gas is deadly, it bears repeating that carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in homes. One for each level of the home. Carbon Monoxide alarms are available as separate units and also available to as A combination Carbon Monoxide and smoke alarm.

Some additional Safety Thoughts

We have reviewed Fire Safety for your home; single story, two and three-story homes.  What about when you travel? How do you exit the hotel or business you stay at away from your home? The National Fire Protection Association recommends acquainting yourself with fire safety features of any building you stay overnight at: 

  • Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings (PDF) may be safer “defending in place.”
  • Know the locations of all exit stairs form the floor you occupy. Ensure exit doors are accessible (not locked or blocked for security reasons or blocked by any objects).
  • In the event of a fire exit your apartment and pull the fire alarm. This will notify neighbors and Fire Department.
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel your door prior to exiting. If hot, find another way-out if possible. Close all doors behind you as you exit.
  • Use the stairs unless specifically instructed Fire Department that the elevator is safe.
  • Elevators that are safe to use in the event of an emergency will be clearly marked as such.
  • Remain attentive to announcements and follow instructions.
  • If you cannot get out of your apartment, The National Fire Association recommends: Stuff wet towels and sheets around doors and vents to keep smoke out. Call Fire Department and alert them to your location.
  • Open a window a bit and wave a bright cloth to signal where you are. If you open a window it may need to be shut if smoke is entering from outside.

Have you ever thought about this?

  • There are approximately 3,000 clothes dryer fires yearly. Many of these fires are the result of faulty installation and maintenance. Always have clothing dryers installed and service by professionals.
  • Lint buildup is another leading cause of home fires. Lint blocking airflow leads to overheating. Clean lint before and after each dryer cycle.
  • Combustible materials in the dryer that ignite are dust, fiber, lint and heavy linen not intended for the dryer.  Don’t forget what might be left in the pockets of clothing.

About half of dryer fires are confined to the dryer, another approximately 30% spread to the adjoining room. The remaining percentage of fires extend out of the room of origin. Any fire has the potential to spread, cause injury and death and damage a home.

To keep a dryer fire from happening:

  • Clean the lint and always be sure the lint filter is in place and replaced if damaged. Ensure the outdoor lint vent cover is open when dryer is on and the exhaust pipe is not pinched.                                      
  • Do not place items in the dryer that do not belong in the dryer (Rugs with foam bottoms, plastic, rubber, glass fiber or marked dry away from heat)
  • Material that has been in contact with anything flammable (Alcohol, cooking oil, gasoline) should not be put in the dryer
  • As with all appliances turn off the dryer if you leave home or go to bed.
  • As with all appliances read manufacturer’s instructions

“Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless”