Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and
more than 20,000 are injured in fires, many of
which could be prevented. Direct property loss
due to fires is estimated at $10 billion
To protect yourself, it is important to
understand the basic characteristics of fire.
Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather
valuables or make a phone call. In just two
minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In
five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in
Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous
than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can
sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases
that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of
being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a
deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause
of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a
Install smoke alarms
Properly working smoke alarms decrease your
chances of dying in a fire by half.
Place smoke alarms on every level of your
residence. Place them outside bedrooms on the
ceiling or high on the wall (4 to 12 inches from
ceiling), at the top of open stairways, or at
the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not
in) the kitchen.
Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and
replace batteries at least once a year. Replace
smoke alarms once every 10 years.
Planning Your Escape
Review escape routes with your family. Practice
escaping from each room.
Make sure windows are not nailed or painted
shut. Make sure security gratings on windows
have a fire safety opening feature so they can
be easily opened from the inside.
Consider escape ladders if your residence has
more than one level, and ensure that burglar
bars and other antitheft mechanisms that block
outside window entry are easily opened from the
Teach family members to stay low to the floor
(where the air is safer in a fire) when escaping
from a fire.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in
the U.S. It is also the leading cause of fire
Deaths due to fires caused by cooking are
Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire
can start in just seconds.
Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when
Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from
flames and heating elements.
Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent
grease buildup which can ignite.
If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on
the pan to smother it. Never throw water on a
Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from
spattering grease. Use extra caution when
preparing deep-fried foods.
Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or
leave the house. Make sure all small appliances
are turned off.
Never use gasoline, benzine, naptha, or similar
flammable liquids indoors.
Store flammable liquids in approved containers
in well-ventilated storage areas.
Never smoke near flammable liquids.
Discard all rags or materials that have been
soaked in flammable liquids after you have used
them. Safely discard them outdoors in a metal
Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on
top. The chimney should be at least three feet
higher than the roof. Remove branches hanging
above and around the chimney.
Be careful when using alternative heating
Check with your local fire department on the
legality of using kerosene heaters in your
community. Be sure to fill kerosene heaters
outside, and be sure they have cooled.
Place heaters at least three feet away from
flammable materials. Make sure the floor and
nearby walls are properly insulated.
Use only the type of fuel designated for your
unit and follow manufacturer's instructions.
Store ashes in a metal container outside and
away from your residence.
Keep open flames away from walls, furniture,
drapery, and flammable items.
Keep a screen in front of the fireplace.
Have heating units inspected and cleaned
annually by a certified specialist.
Matches and Smoking
Keep matches and lighters up high, away from
children, and, if possible, in a locked cabinet.
Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated.
Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ashtrays.
Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water
Have the electrical wiring in your residence
checked by an electrician.
Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed
wires or loose plugs.
Make sure outlets have cover plates and no
Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over
nails, or across high-traffic areas.
Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If
you need to plug in two or three appliances, get
a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit
breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
Make sure insulation does not touch bare
Sleep with your door closed.
Install A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your
residence and teach family members how to use
Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler
system in your residence.
Ask your local fire department to inspect your
residence for fire safety and prevention.
During a Fire
To escape a fire, you should:
Check closed doors for heat before you open
them. If you are escaping through a closed door,
use the back of your hand to feel the top of the
door, the doorknob, and the crack between the
door and door frame before you open it. Never
use the palm of your hand or fingers to test for
heat - burning those areas could impair your
ability to escape a fire (i.e., ladders and
Hot Door - Do not open. Escape through a window.
If you cannot escape, hang a white or
light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting
fire fighters to your presence.
Cool Door - Open slowly and ensure fire and/or
smoke is not blocking your escape route. If your
escape route is blocked, shut the door
immediately and use an alternate escape route,
such as a window. If clear, leave immediately
through the door and close it behind you. Be
prepared to crawl. Smoke and heat rise. The air
is clearer and cooler near the floor.
Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy
smoke and poisonous gases collect first along
Close doors behind you as you escape to delay
the spread of the fire.
Stay out once you are safely out. Do not
reenter. Call 9-1-1.
After a Fire
The following are guidelines for different
circumstances in the period following a fire:
If you are with burn victims, or are a burn
victim yourself, call 9-1-1; cool and cover
burns to reduce chance of further injury or
If you detect heat or smoke when entering a
damaged building, evacuate immediately.
If you are a tenant, contact the landlord.
If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to
open it. It can hold intense heat for several
hours. If the door is opened before the box has
cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
If you must leave your home because a building
inspector says the building is unsafe, ask
someone you trust to watch the property during
-Info from http://www.Ready.gov