Problem: Smoke alarms sound, or five is discovered in home.
Background: In case of a fire emergency, don’t panic; stay calm. Your safe escape may depend on clear thinking. Get out of the house as quickly as possible, following any previously planned escape route. Don’t stop to collect anything or to get dressed. Feel the doors to see if they are hot. If they are not, open them carefully. If they are hot, don’t open them and use an alternate escape route. Stay close to the floor because smoke and hot gases rise. Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth (wet if possible) and take short, shallow breaths. Keep doors and windows closed, opening them only if necessary for escape. Call the fire department as soon as possible from outside your house. Never go back inside a burning building.
What to do: If fire does not appear to be present, check entry 2. It’s smart to develop a family escape plan and practice it with your entire family, including small children. Draw a floor plan of your home, and find two ways to exit from every room. There should be one way to get out of each bedroom without opening the door. Explain to children what smoke detector alarms mean, and teach them how to leave the home by themselves if necessary. Show them how to check doors to deter mine whether they are hot before opening them, how to stay close to the floor and crawl if necessary, and how to use an alternate exit if the door is hot and should not be opened.
Decide on a meeting place a safe distance from your home, and make sure your children understand they should wait for you there if a fire occurs. Hold fire drills at least every 6 months and know where to go to call the fire department from outside your home. Keep emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, in the house and teach your family how to use them properly.
Special advice: In addition to in stalling smoke detectors, providing fire extinguishers, and developing an escape plan, follow good fire prevention practices. Use smoking materials properly and never smoke in bed. Keep matches and cigarette lighters from children. Store flammable materials in proper containers and never use them near open flames or sparks. Keep electrical appliances in good condition and don’t overload electrical circuits. Also keep stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and barbecue grills free of grease, and make sure they are used properly, away from combustible materials. Make certain portable heaters and open flames, such as candles, are not used near combustible materials. Do not allow rubbish to accumulate.
Helpful hint: Contact your local fire department for more ideas about how to make your home safer from fires, and how to plan your family’s escape.