October is Fire Prevention Month. According to the Home Safety Council’s State of Home Safety in America™ Report, fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional home injury and related deaths. Fire safety and survival begin with everyone in your household being prepared. Follow the safety advice below to reduce the chance of fire in your home.

Smoke Detectors
•    Place smoke detectors near bedrooms and on every floor of the house.
•    Test the batteries often or as recommended by the manufacturer.
•    Don’t place smoke detectors near air vents.
•    The smoke detector’s battery should be replaced twice a year. Here is an easy way to remember: When you change your clocks, change your batteries.

Electrical Wiring
•    Replace worn cords.
•    Don’t run cords under rugs or carpets.
•    Don’t overload electrical outlets or power strips.
•    Avoid using extension cords when possible.
•    Replace any frayed or cracked extension cords.
•    Don’t tamper with your fuse box or use improper-size fuses.
•    If any electrical appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately, and don’t use it until checked or repaired.

Electric Space Heaters
•    Don’t use an extension cord on space heaters.
•    Unplug heaters when you are not using them.
•    Keep heaters a safe distance (at least three feet) from furniture and curtains.
•    Do not dry your clothes, gloves or other items on a heater.

•    Have your chimney cleaned regularly to prevent chimney fires.
•    If you have a fire in your fireplace, always close the screen or doors.
•    Always empty your fireplace ashes in a metal container, and set them away from the house or anything that will burn.

•    Never leave cooking unattended.
•    For each pot or pan you use, have its lid out to cover it to extinguish sudden flare ups.
•    Keep the cooking areas clear of combustibles such as aerosol cans, oil, towels etc.
•    Turn pot and pan handles inward on the stove so they can’t be bumped.
•    Keep small children away from the cooking area while in use.

Home Fire Escape Plan – Create a family escape plan in case of fire.
•    Practice the escape plan every six months.
•    Assign someone to help those that need help getting out.
•    Create a meeting place for everyone once they get out.
•    Get out of the house or building and stay out.
•    Always know two ways out of every room.
•    Feel doors with the back of your hand for heat before opening.
•    Open doors slowly, and be ready to close them if heat or fire is outside them.
•    Close any doors you safely can as you are leaving the house or building.
•    Crawl low under the smoke.
•    Once outside, go to a phone, and call 911 to report the fire.

Calling 911 – Provide any helpful information to the fire department that you can such as:
•    Where the fire is located in the house or building
•    If anyone is still in the house or building and where they might be located
•    Any hazards that might be in the house or building

Just good common sense …
•    If your clothes catch on fire: STOP, DROP and ROLL until the fire goes out, and cover your face with your hands.
•    Children should NOT have access to or play with matches or lighters.
•    Children should stay away from others who play with fire and should immediately inform an adult.
•    Smokers should always use a proper ash tray and should stay alert while smoking.
•    Have working fire extinguishers, and know how to use them.
•    Do not waste time trying to save your pets, toys and other things.
•    Every second counts in a fire.

Remember, fire safety begins at home. Every family should know the basics of how to prevent fires and what to do in case there is a fire. Check out these useful Web sites for additional safety tips.

Smokey Bear
National Fire Protection Association
U.S. Fire Administration

Posted in: Fire Safety Tips, Maryland Insurance