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Fire Safety Tips

If you see a fire, smell smoke or gas, hear the smoke dectector go off, take immediate action. Don't hesitate!

Fires are some of the most devastating disasters imaginable, especially since many are started due to negligence and are preventable. The destruction caused by fires, inside and outside the home, can be catastrophic, causing major damage and in many cases, serious injury and death.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, a fire can be ignited at almost any place at any time. Hundred of thousands of fires in the United States each year cause over 15,000 deaths and serious injuries.

Did you know that roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or the alarms are not working?

Some of the most valuable resources you can have in your home are smoke detectors. They have helped same numerous lives by alerting residents of fires inside homes. They should be positioned on the wall or ceiling just outside each bedroom and if your home is multi-leveled, make sure that smoke detectors are placed on every level.

If you smoke, especially in bed, make sure that smoke detectors are placed inside your bedroom. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries every six months.

People who are hard of hearing or deaf should purchase special alarms that have strobe lights and bed shakers.

There are things you can do to keep your family safe from fires:

(1) Plan two ways out of every room in case of a fire.

(2) Check for items such as bookcases, hanging pictures, or overhead lights that could fall and block an escape path.

(3) Check hallways, stairwells, doorways, windows and other areas for hazards that may keep you from safely leaving a building during an emergency.

(4) Secure or remove furniture and objects that may block your path.

(5) If there are aspects of preparing your home or workplace that you are not able to do yourself, enlist the help of your personal support network.

(6) Keep the telephone number to your local fire station within easy reach and available at all times.

(7) Keep matches, cigarette lighters, and other fire starting devices out of the reach of children.

(8) Store flammable liquids in a safe place.

(9) Practice fire drills regularly and practice stop, drop, and roll drills in case of clothing fires.

Test doors before you open them. Before opening a door to escape, reach up as high as yu can and touch around the door, at the knob, and around the frame with the back of your hand. If any area feels warm, don't open the door. If the door is cool, open it cautiously and be ready to slam it shut if there is smoke or flame on the other side.

Crawl low under smoke to your exit. If you encounter smoke while you're escaping, try another escape route. If you must escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 1 to 2 feet above the floor. This is where the air will be cleaner.

Portable fire extinguishers are also important in homes. They can be used to contain small fires. Fire extinguishers should be placed in the kitchen and garage. Make sure that all members of the household know where fire extinguishers are located in the home and know how to use them.

If your home is on fire, even if the fire seems to be located in a small or centralized area, once everyone is out and accounted for, don't go back in for any reason until you get the okay to re-enter by the fire department.

The outside of your home should be defended against fires as well as the inside.

(1) Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house because it can easily catch fire from wind-blown sparks. It is highly recommended that you build or re-roof with fire resistive roofing materials. Also be sure to clear pine needles, leaves or other debris from your roof and gutters. And remove any dead branches overhanging your roof.

(2) Remove any tree branches within 10 feet of your chimney. Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a nonflammable screen of 1/2 inches or smaller mesh.

(3) Create a "defensible space" by removing all dry grass, brush, and dead leaves at least 30 feet from your home. Replace native plants with ornamental landscaping plants that are fire resistive. Defensible space must be regularly maintained to be effective.

(4) Space trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart. Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas. For trees taller than 18 feet, prune lower branches within six feet of the ground to keep ground fires from spreading into tree tops.

(5) Stack firewood and scrap woodpiles at least 30 feet from any structure and clear away flammable vegetation that is within 10 feet of the woodpiles.

(6) Locate LPG tanks (butane and propane) at least 30 feet from any structure and surround them with 10 feet of clearance.

When it comes to fire safety, the little things you do can save your life and the lives of your family members. Always have a pre-planned escape route from your home and neighborhood. Designate an emergency meeting place for the reunion of family members escaping in separate vehicles, and establish a contact point to communicate with concerned relatives.

For more fire safety tips, go to http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/disabilities/.

Listed below are talking points developed by FEMA that will help you in making you and your family as prepared as possible if there is a disaster in the area in which you live.

(1) Are you prepared?

(2) Be informed

(3) Chemical and biological terrorism

(4) Chemical and biological weapons

(5) Consider your pets

(6) Create a personal support network

(7) Develop a family communication plan

(8) Emergency Information Management

(9) Emergency kit

(10) Emergency money

(11) Fire safety

(12) Get involved

(13) If you have to evacuate

(14) Important documents

(15) Make a plan

(16) Medical supplies

(17) Shelter-in-place

(18) Stay or go

(19) The elderly and the disabled

(20) Vehicle emergency kit

(21) Working together

Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now.

Information was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with AARP, the American Red Cross and the National Organization on Disability.

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