Two thirds of all fires involving fatalities happen in homes between the hours of 8:00 pm and 8:00 am. Three fifths of America’s home fire fatalities occur in homes without smoke detectors.
- A smoke detector cannot save your life if it’s not working.
- Dead, missing or disconnected batteries are the principle cause of non-working detectors
- Test once a month (replace any battery too weak to sound alarm)
- Heed the warning, when the detector chirps the battery is low
- Replace batteries twice per year. A good rule is to change them when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
- Nothing lasts forever, after 10 years replace the smoke detector
Dealing With False Alarms
- Do not disconnect the detector; either clean, repair or replace it
- If false alarms persist, replace the detector (try a different manufacturer)
Types of Smoke Detectors
- There are basically two types: Ionization (most common) and Photoelectric
- Any approved type will work
How Many Do I Need?
- Inside and outside each sleeping area and on each level, including the basement
- For hearing impaired you can obtain detectors with flashing lights
- Required smoke detectors must be hard wired, battery backup and interconnected. That way when one detector is activated all detectors will sound
Where Do I Install My Detector?
- Wall mounted units should be installed with the top 6 to 12 inches from the ceiling
- Ceiling mounted units at least 6 inches from the nearest wall
- Do not mount near registers, doors, windows or ceiling fans
Plan Your Escape
During a fire, there’s no time for planning. Sit down with your family and create a plan for escaping from a fire.
Draw a floor plan of your home and mark down two (2) ways to exit from every room, especially sleeping areas. Discuss the escape routes with every member of your home.
Agree on a meeting place outside your home where everyone will gather after escaping to wait for the fire department. This allows you to know that everyone got out. Advise the fire department if anyone is trapped inside the burning building.
Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be monitor and have everyone participate. Get out quickly, but careful.
Make your exit drill realistic. Pretend that a few exits are blocked by fire and practice alternative routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that a few of your escape routes are filled with smoke.
Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars need to be equipped with quick release devices and everyone in the household should know how to use them.
If you live in a two (2)-story house, and must escape from the second story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Make special arrangements for children, older adults and persons with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and if possible should sleep on the ground floor.
Test doors before opening them. Kneel or crouch at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution.
If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke. Wait at a window and signal for help with a light colored cloth or a flashlight. If there’s a phone in the room, call 911 and tell them exactly where you are.
Get Out Fast
In case of fire, don’t stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place and then call 911 from a neighbor’s phone. Every member of your household should know how to call for help.
Crawl low under smoke. Smoke contains deadly gases and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit route, use your alternate escape plan. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor.
Once You’re Out, Stay Out
Once you are out of your house don’t go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the firefighters have the best chance of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overwhelming. Firefighters have the training, experience and protective equipment needed to enter a burning building.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your house and by every bedroom.
- Check your smoke detector batteries at least twice a year.
- Have your chimney and heating system inspected annually.
- Never overload electrical outlets and keep cords out of harms way.
- Display large address numbers that the Fire Department can easily see from the road.