Sadly, more than 4,000 Americans die and approximately another 20,000 are injured each year in fires (National Fire Protection Association). During these cool, crisp Louisiana months your family may be more at risk. Follow these smokin’ hot tips to keep your family safe.
1. KNOW THE DRILL
Installing smoke alarms in your home is a must, but they don’t save lives unless your troop knows the drill. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can become completely out of control. Set your fire escape plan and make sure everyone in your home knows how to get out safely in the event of a fire. And be sure everyone knows that once out—there’s no turning back.
2. ONE. TWO. BREAK!
The best evacuation plans have two ways out of each room. If the main exit is blocked by fire or smoke, you need to know another way out.
3. HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Designate a safe meeting place away from your home and select one person to go to a neighbor’s home to call the fire department.
4. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The time to learn is before a fire. Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year and practice escaping from every room in your home. If you have children in the house, be sure to practice the escape plan during the night hours as well. Many children do not respond to smoke alarms when in a deep sleep.
5. THE MORE THE MERRIER
One smoke alarm is not enough. Put one on each level of your home, outside of the kitchen, outside of each sleeping area, and inside of each bedroom.
6. GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
Keep false alarms to a minimum by placing your smoke alarms on ceilings or high on walls and away from doors and windows. Keep them away from the gumbo pot or any other path of cooking vapors, unless you really like the sound of your smoke detector!
7. TESTING. ONE…TWO…THREE
Be sure to test your smoke detectors monthly. Batteries should be replaced twice a year, with alarms being fully replaced every ten years. Why wait for the “chirping?”
8. RUN THE OPTION
There are a variety of smoke alarms on the market. Here are some to consider: the familiar single sensor battery powered smoke alarms; ionization detectors, which respond well to flaming fires; photoelectric detectors, which respond well to smoldering fires; voice activated detectors, which may help wake children and instruct them to escape safely and dual sensors, which are a combination of some of the detectors listed above.
9. A BACKHANDED RESPONSE
Protect your grip by using the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, doorknob, crack between the door and door frame to make sure fire is not on the other side before opening a door during a fire. Be sure everyone in your house knows never to open doors that are hot to the touch.
10. SAFE ESCAPE
Home escape ladders may be used for evacuation from a two or three story house. Escape ladders come in two standard lengths—15 feet and 25 feet. The shorter length is adequate for most two story homes, while the longer is used for three story homes. Make sure you check your load limits.
11. COOLIN’ THE FLAMES
Purchase a fire extinguisher for your home because the only thing smokin’ should be the sausage on the grill. Don’t get confused when choosing one. Choose an extinguisher that is right for your home. Everyone should have at least one fire extinguisher at home, but the perfect pick is just as important.
12. KNOW YOUR ABC’S
Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, based on different types of fires. Each fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that serves as a guide for the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle.
13. Class A
fire extinguishers are for materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicate the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish.
14. Class B
fire extinguishers are for fires involving flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicate the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish.
15. Class C
fire extinguishers are for fires involving electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires - the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is nonconductive.
16. Class D
fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires involving combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multipurpose rating - they are designed for class D fires only.
This is the multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher. It is an excellent choice to have in your home as it can be used on a variety of fires.
Remember the Things Your Mama Told You!
After the storytelling is over and Paw Paw is in bed for the night, make sure you remember to tell your little ones some very important family secrets. Write these tips in the baby book, so that Junior can keep the safety story going...
1. FIRE-PROOF FASHIONISTA.
Loose-fitting clothes near an open flame are a fashion no-no. It’s better for your clothes to be as snug as a bug in a rug when you will be spending time around the fire. Should your clothes catch fire—stop, drop, and roll.
Keep matches, lighters and candles out of children’s reach. Somehow, toddlers can strike a match better than many adults.
Save your nose and keep a potential hazard from taking center stage! Store gasoline, paint thinner and ammonia outside the home.
4. A-FRAYED - NOT!
Exposed wires can lead to a fire. Inspect your electrical cords for damage and replace any frayed electrical wires or cords.
5. ABSENTEE CHEF?
Keep an eye on your cooking and stay in the kitchen. Turn pan handles inward to prevent spills. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires.
6. KEEP IT CLEAN
Not only will it help you keep the bugs away, but a clean cooking surface - free of food and grease build-up - may keep an unwanted fire away as well.
7. CLEAR THE WAY
Keep curtains, towels and pot holders away from hot surfaces.
8. SLEEPING & SMOKING DON'T MIX
If you smoke, never smoke when sleepy, in the bed or relaxing in your Lazy Boy.
9. ELBOW ROOM
Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
10. IT ONLY TAKES A SPARK
Love a roaring fireplace? Be sure to use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.