A fire can become life-threatening in as little as two minutes. A working smoke detector is crucial to alerting those inside of fire danger. Confirm loved ones recognize the smoke detector's warning sound and know how to respond. Place a working smoke detector on each level of your home and near bedrooms. Test the battery each month and replace as needed. Consider upgrading to a smoke detector with a 10-year nonremovable battery that beeps when it is time to replace the unit.
Create and practice an escape plan. Identify two exits and a central meeting place outside the home. Smoke from a fire could make it difficult to get out. Practice escaping by crawling out with closed eyes. Do you live with children, a disabled individual, elderly person or pets? Include them in your escape plan. Hold fire drills twice a year.
Consider investing in a fire extinguisher. Place a multi-purpose fire extinguisher in the kitchen, laundry room and garage as these are areas where fires commonly occur. Periodically go over how to use the fire extinguisher and confirm the unit is adequately charged.
Take fire prevention seriously. Many house fires are related to cooking or heating equipment. Stay in the kitchen when food is cooking, especially frying. Have a professional check chimney and wood stove pipes for creosote build-up prior to heating season. Burn only seasoned hardwood in the fireplace or woodstove. If you use a space heater, place it on a flat, level surface three feet away from combustible materials like paper, drapes, carpet and home décor. Keep children and pets away from the unit. Turn off an unattended space heater. Remove cooled ashes and place them in a metal container for disposal. Replace frayed electric cords and do not cover them with rugs. Remove lint from the dryer vent periodically. Extinguish candles if you leave the room or want to sleep. Keep matches and lighters away from children. Never smoke in bed.