Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Survive a Fire in Your Home

Do you know what to do if there is a fire in your home? You can survive a fire in your home if you plan and practice your escape!

Each family member must know what to do in the event of a fire in your home. All of you should evacuate your home immediately.

Most residential fires occur between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Deaths from residential fires occur in greatest numbers between midnight and 4 a.m., when most people are asleep. An average of 800 fires strike residential buildings each day in the United States. More than 6,500 people die each year from fire – more than half of them are children and senior citizens. The majority of these deaths are in home fires.

Immediate exit is critical to survival. Fire doubles in size every minute. Your home will fill with smoke very rapidly. Most people who die in house fires die from smoke. Smoke causes dizziness and disorientation. It is also impossible to see through smoke. In the confusion, one can easily become lost or trapped.

What you can do
·         Install and maintain your smoke alarms, test them every month.
o   Aside from installing an automatic fire sprinkler system, smoke alarms are the single most important thing you can do to save lives in the event of a fire. Half of home fire deaths occur in the very small percentage of homes without smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and near or inside all bedrooms. Test your smoke alarms once a month. Replace alarm batteries at least once a year—a good time to do it is when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.
·         Plan your escape
o   Family members must understand that their safety depends upon quickly leaving the home. It has been proven that exit drills reduce chances of panic and injury in fires and that trained and informed people have a much better chance to survive fires in their home. A home escape plan must be created and practiced so that each person knows exactly what to do if a fire occurs.
·         Draw a floor plan of your home. Show two ways out of each room. Discuss escape routes with everyone in your home. Very Important: Agree on a meeting place outside where everyone will gather once you've escaped. When firefighters arrive, it is critical they know if anyone is inside the burning structure. NFPA fire escape planning guide for kids
·         Practice
o   Hold home fire drills at least twice a year. Ensure that smoke alarms alert everyone sleeping in your home. Make drills realistic by pretending some escape paths are blocked by smoke and fire.
·         Be prepared
o   Teach everyone in your household how to unlock and open all windows and doors. If your windows have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices. Keep stairways and exits clear and free from clutter.
·         Remember: NEVER go back into a burning building.



If You Live in an Apartment Building
Learn and practice your building's evacuation plan. Leave immediately if you hear a smoke alarm. Know the location of all building exits and fire alarms. Use the stairs—never use elevators during a fire. Report any locked or blocked exits to your building's management.

Escape Tips
Test the doorknob and spaces around the door with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, try another escape route. If it's cool, open it slowly. Close it quickly if smoke comes through the doorway. If you have to escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head one to two feet above the floor, where the air is the cleanest. If you can safely do so, close doors behind you as you escape to slow the spread of fire and smoke.

Home fires are obviously dangerous and can be scary.  Consistent practice of escape plans for kids as young as 3 years old will ensure the greatest chance of survival in these emergencies.  For more information about the Vigilant Fire Company visit www.vigilantfd.com or like us on facebook.com/vigilantfd or follow us on twitter.com/gnvfdchief.