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Fire Prevention

SMOKE DETECTORS

Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths.

  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test every detector at least once a month.
  • Keep smoke detectors dust free.
  • Replace batteries with new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.
  • If you have a smoke detector directly wired into your electrical system, be sure that the little signal light is blinking periodically. This tells you that the alarm is active.
  • Inexpensive smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

They remain your best bet if you're on the spot when a fire begins.

  • Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop.
  • Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires.
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.
  • Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires only.
  • If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another location.

THINKING AHEAD: Your Exit Plan

As with other things, the best motto is, "Be Prepared."

  • Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.
  • Easy-to-use window escape ladders are available through many catalogues and outlet stores.
  • Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.
  • Stay together away from the fire. Call 911 from another location. Make certain that no one goes back inside the burning building.
  • Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free of obstructions and combustibles.

FIREPLACE

Remember, you're deliberately bringing fire into your home; respect it.

  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying.
  • Don't store newspapers, kindling, or matches near the fireplace or have an exposed rug or wooden floor right in front of the fireplace.
  • Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned to remove combustible creosote build-up if necessary.

FURNACE/SPACE HEATERS

Used improperly, a space heater can be the most dangerous appliance in your house.

  • Install and maintain heating equipment correctly. Have your furnace inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season .
  • Don't store newspapers, rags, or other combustible materials near a furnace, hot water heater, space heater, etc.
  • Don't leave space heaters operating when you're not in the room.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that might burn, including the wall.
  • Don't use extension cords with electrical space heaters. The high amount of current they require could over heat the cord and start a fire.
  • Never use a gas range as a substitute for a furnace.

CLOTHES DRYER

Under some circumstances, dangerous heat can build up in a dryer.

  • Never leave home with the clothes dryer running.
  • Dryers must be vented to the outside, not into a wall or attic.
  • Clean the lint screen frequently to keep the airway clear.
  • Never put in synthetic fabrics, plastic, rubber, or foam because they retain heat.

ELECTRICAL HAZARDS

 

  • It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a rug or twist it around a nail or hook.
  • Never overload a socket. In particular, the use of "octopus" outlets, outlet extensions that accommodate several plugs, is strongly discouraged.
  • Do not use light bulb wattage which is too high for the fixture. Look for the label inside each fixture which tells the maximum wattage.
  • Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you've waited too long.
  • Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating. The same applies to plug-in radios and stereo sets, and to powerful lamps.
  • If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently, immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.
  • Be sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
  • In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system has not kept pace with today's modern appliances. Overloaded electrical systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.

KITCHEN

 Never leave cooking unattended.

  • It's wise to have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. Keep it 10 feet away from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
  • Keep pot handles on the stove pointing to the back, and always watch young children in the kitchen.
  • Don't store items on the stove top, as they could catch fire.
  • Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off and disconnect them when not in use.
  • Don't overload kitchen electrical outlets and don't use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing when you cook. Here's why: An electrical coil on the stove reaches a temperature of 800 degrees. A gas flame goes over 1,000 degrees. Your dish towel or pot holder can catch fire at 400 degrees. So can your bathrobe, apron, or loose sleeve.
  • Be sure your stove is not located under a window in which curtains are hanging.
  • Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly. and wipe up spilled grease as soon as the surface of the stove is cool.
  • Operate your microwave only when there is food in it.

CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN

One-fourth of all fire-deaths of children are from fires started by children.

  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave children unattended with fire or space heaters.
  • Children are naturally curious about fire, so keep an eye on them. But if a child repeatedly plays with fire or seems to have a morbid fascination with fire, seek professional help at once.
  • If youngsters live with you or stay overnight occasionally, be sure that they know how to escape from every room and are part of your emergency exit plan. [See "Thinking Ahead" above]

GASOLINE AND OTHER FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

Those cans aren't painted red just for the fun of it!

  • Flammable liquids should be stored only in approved safety containers, and the containers should be kept outside the house and garage in a separate storage shed.
  • Gas up lawn equipment and snowthrowers outside, away from enclosed areas and any source of sparks or heat.
  • Start the equipment 10 feet from where you filled it with fuel.
  • Don't fill a hot lawn mower, snowthrower, or other motor; let it cool first.
  • Never clean floors or do other general cleaning with gasoline or flammable liquids.

SMOKING

 

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Don't smoke when you are drinking or are abnormally tired.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays, and empty them frequently.
  • Never dump an ashtray into the trash without wetting the butts and ashes first.

(Source: http://seniors.tcnet.org/articles/article04.html)

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