- A burning structure can produce lung-damaging smoke and flames in seconds. Early detection is critical as getting out fast is the only way to avoid injury. Put a smoke detector on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and in the kitchen. Test smoke detectors regularly and replace batteries every spring and fall. Smoke detectors should be upgraded every ten years.
- Create a clutter-free escape route based on household members' abilities. Include pets too. Designate an outside meeting location to reunite. Hold periodic fire drills and practice crawling out to limit smoke inhalation. Teach children to stop, drop to the ground, cover their faces, and roll. Remind everyone to exit the structure beore calling 911 and stay outside.
- Improper maintenance can lead to a fire. Hire a professional to service the fireplace, chimney, woodstove, and furnace before cold temperatures arrive. Confirm the chimney is clear of crosote and properly vented. Burn only dry, seasoned wood in your fireplace or woodstove and place a sturdy screen in fron of the unit to keep sparks inside the hearth. Place cooled ashes from a fireplace or wood stove in a designated metal container. Examine the space heater power cord and plug-in for signs of wear. Replace as needed. Turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to bed. Rugs, curtains, and home decor should be at least three feet away from heating equipment. Coach children and pets to stay back as well.
- Do not overload electric outlets or wiring circuits with multiple plug-ins. Never hide electric cords underneath rugs. Appliances should be properly grounded. Replace frayed electric cords. Periodically check the condition of outlets throughout your home. Professionally upgrade wiring to support your family's electrical needs. Plug electronics unto UL-approved surge protectors.
- Stay in the kitchen to monitor food while it is cooking, especially when oil is involved. Turn pot and skillet handles inward. Keep flammable potholders towels, paper, and trash bags away from the stovetop. Avoid wearing loose clothing near an open flame. A strategically placed fire extinguisher may help you avoid a tragic situation.
Other best practices.
- Keep matches and lighters in a locked cabinet out of children's reach. Store flammable liquids in approved containers away from the furnace, water heater, or other heat sources. Get rid of fire accelerants like oily rags, newspapers, and trash. Remove lint from the clothes dryer filter after each use. Clean the dryer vent annually. Burn candles in sturdy holders far away from children and pets. Extinguish candle flames when you leave the room. Never smoke in bed.