Since fire spreads so quickly, there is NO time to grab valuables or make a phone call! In just two minutes a fire can become life threatening! In five minutes a house can be engulfed in flames.
A fire's heat and smoke are more dangerous than the actual flames since you can burn your lungs by inhaling the super-hot air. fire produces a poisonous gas that makes you drowsy and disoriented (confused). Instead of being awakened by a fire, you could fall into a deeper sleep.
Before A Fire (Fire Safety Tips):
Install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors! - Test alarms 1-4 times a month, replace batteries once a year, and get new units every 10 years.
Make a plan - create an Escape Plan that includes two escape routes from every room in the house and walk through the routes with your entire family. Also...
- Make sure your window are not nailed or painted shut.
- Make sure security bars on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside...and teach everyone how to open them!
- Teach everyone how to stay LOW to floor (air is safer).
- Pick a spot to meet after escaping fire (meeting place).
Clean up - Keep storage areas clean - don't stack up newspapers and trash.
Check power sources - Check electrical wiring and extension cords -- don't overload cords or outlets. Make sure there are no exposed wires anywhere and make sure wiring doesn't touch home insulation.
Use caution - Never use gasoline or similar liquids indoors and never smoke around flammable liquids!
Check heat sources - Check furnaces, stoves, cracked or rusty furnace parts, and chimneys. Always be careful with space heaters and keep them at level 3 feet ( 1 m) away from flammable materials.
Know how to shut off power - Know where the circuit breaker box and gas valve is and how to turn them off, if necessary. (And always have a gas company rep turn on a main gas line. )
Install & learn A-B-C - Install A-B-C fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them. (A-B-C works on all types of fires and recommended for home - please read label.)
Call local fire - Ask local fire department if they will inspect your home or business for fire safety and prevention.
Teach kids - Explain to children that matches and lighters are TOOLS, not toys...and if they see someone playing with fire they should tell and adult right away! And teach them how to report a fire and when to call 911.
Prevent common fires - Pay attention when cooking and don't smoke in bed!
During a fire:
If only a small fire that's not spreading too fast....
Try to put out...? Use a fire extinguisher or water (unless it's an electrical or grease fire) ...and never try to put out a fire that's getting out of control!
- electrical fire - never use water...use a fire extinguisher approved for electrical fires
- oil or grease fire in kitchen - smother fire with baking soda or salt (or, if burning in pan or skillet, carefully put a lid over it -- but don't try to carry pan outside!)
GET OUT - DO NOT take time to try to grab anything except your family members! Once outside, do NOT try to go back in (even for pets) - let the firemen do it! Ask a neighbor to call fire department if not already called.
GET DOWN - Stay low to the ground under smoke by crawling on your hands and knees or squat down and walk like a duck... but keep moving to find a way out!
Closed door - Using the back of your hand (not your palm) always feel the top of the door, doorknob and the crack between the door and door frame before you open a closed door!
- If door is cool - leave quickly, close door behind you and crawl to an exit
- If door is hot - DO NOT open it... find another way out.
Use stairs - Never take the elevator during a fire ... always uses stairs!
IF YOU are on fire - If your clothes ever catch fire, STOP what you're doing, DROP to the ground, cover your face and ROLL until the fire goes out, Running only makes the fire burn faster!
Toxic gas - Plastics in household goods create deadly fumes when burned.
After A Fire:
Don't go in there - Never enter a fire-damaged building until officials say it's okay and watch for signs of smoke in case the fire isn't totally out. Even if a fire's out, hydrogen cyanide and other toxic fumes can remain.
Utilities - Have an electrician check your household wiring before you turn the power back on and DO NOT try to reconnect any utilities yourself!
Damage - Look for structural damage (roof, walls, floors, etc. ) since they may be weak.
Call for help - Local disaster relief service ( Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) can help provide shelter, food, or personal items that were destroyed.
Insurance - Call your insurance agent or representative and..
- Keep receipts of all clean-up and repair costs (for both insurance and income taxes).
- Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken by your insurance company.
Move your stuff - Secure your personal belongings or move them to another location, if possible.
To learn more about fire safety and fire prevention visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website www.usfa.dhs.gov or contact your local fire department, emergency official, or your insurance agent / representative.