Fires kill an average of 7 people every day in the US.
Yes, you read it right!
Is Your Home Protected From a Fire?
No one wants to be in a fire. The effects are destructive tremendously. Everyone must take the time to read about fire safety. If you want to be safe and save lives, it’s time for you know a few important facts about fire. These tips will help you protect your most valuable assets from property to l/content/fire-safety/index.htmlife. Then, find the right tools and techniques to use for your ultimate protection.
Before we move ahead, here is a brief idea on how fires have affected public life & property in the United States.
The above representation shows that the in ten years from 2003 to 2012, there has been a decrease of 6% in the number of fires but there has been more than 24% decrease in the number of deaths caused due to these fires. In other words, there have been 24% of the lives under fire attack were saved.
At the same time, the monetary losses have been reduced by 24%.
NFPA figures also reveal that over 65% of fatal fires occur in those 10% of the homes that are not protected with smoke detectors.
These reductions in life & monetary losses have been gradual, with a lot of credits falling into Home Safety emergency planning.
But why do houses catch fire? What are these hazardous sources?
The above representation clearly tells us that Cooking Equipment & Kitchen seem to be the major cause & location of a fire situation respectively.
Who get affected the most?
Major demography of people affected by Fires:
Around 60% of people prone to die or injure are males. And sometimes, these people are the ones who die saving lives of others.
Post age 50, the risk of dying in a fire accident increases manifolds; even for kids under 5 years of age, the risk is on similar lines. This seems natural but its worrisome as well; our kids and elders are more vulnerable in such situations.
Children under five are 1.4 times more likely as the population as a whole to die in home fires
Seniors age 75 and older are 2.8 times more likely to die in a home fire
Going forward, here is the information on the likelihood of fire with respect to times, days of the year.
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Now, let’s find out some of the primary characteristics of Fire; although they might seem obvious but sometimes we humans, have the tendency of overlooking some basic points such as:
Fire spreads fast
Avid movie watchers know this fact if they have watched movies with blazing fires. Speed is a major quality strong aspect of fire. The bigger the fire, the faster it spreads and the more damage it causes. However, small problem could always lead to a much bigger problem. A few sparks from a small cigarette could turn into a small flame and then into a house fire within minutes. A fire on a small branch could spread onto other tree branches and create a raging forest fire that burns or days. Time is not on your side if you ever encounter a fire. Therefore, since most fires act quickly, you have to do so as well.
Fire is Hot
That fact is obvious, but you must remember the extreme dangers of fire. How hot is the fire? Large fires can block the doors and windows that lead to escapes. Sticking your hand or body through a big fire is likely to cause severe burns, even if you do it for a few seconds.
The temperatures vary from 100 to 600 degrees, just as the heat found in an erupting volcano. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be trapped within flames, you will feel your body transform. Some people have seen their clothes, skin and even body parts melt before their eyes. The temperature is one factor that determines how badly you will be burned.
When does it happen?
Most fires happen during the active hours of the day while most deaths occur while people are caught unaware in their sleep.
Surprisingly, most deaths due to fire occur during the festive season of the year from November to March.
Fire is Dark
Contrary to popular belief, a fire is not bright, it's dark. A flame begins bright and then quickly turns into black smoke as it grows and becomes larger. Waking up to a fire is almost like waking up blind. Seeing can be nearly impossible and you may have difficulty navigating through your own home.
Smoke is a Killer
If you read the news, you know that many people have died of smoke inhalation. When they sit in the fire for too long, they inhale the smoke until it becomes impossible to breath. Smoke is like fire because it gets more destructive as it gets larger.
Too much smoke in the room interferes with your exit plan. You find it hard to see and move around to escape. As you inhale smoke, you find it harder to breathe in oxygen and take in the toxins instead. The overwhelming stench and thickness of the fumes leads to drowsiness, nausea and unconsciousness. If you are trapped inside of a smoke cloud, you are strongly encouraged not to fall asleep.
Know how to Protect Your Home
You know that you can prevent house fires, but you do not know exactly how to do so. It takes a few changes around the house to start, but for ultimate safety, the efforts are worth it. If you have a flammable item like a blanket or an apron, it must be placed a few feet away from the source of fire like a stove.
There are plenty of other Fire Prevention Tips for Adults and Children:
The Importance of Smoke Alarms
Install and maintain a smoke alarm
For every five deaths caused by fire, three of the deaths occur in homes that do not contain smoke detectors. That is the only big enough reason why you need smoke detection. Your chances of succumbing to burns and smoke inhalation are cut in half (or even less) when your home has a warning system in place.
So, what do you do after you know you need a smoke detector?
Next, sort through the confusing mix of brands and manufacturers on the market. You can either buy ionization or photoelectric alarms that respond to fires in different ways. Duel sensor smoke detectors have parts that work like ionization and photoelectric devices. For hearing impaired people, there are alarms that vibrate or flash bright lights. Because no one knows what kind of fires may erupt, the USFA recommends every place where everyone sleeps, including homes, have either both photoelectric and ionization alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms.
What about the cost?
If you are trying to safeguard your house and family, you should not worry about the cost. There is no worry, anyway, because most smoke alarms are affordable. Most devices cost from $6 to $30 based on its features. Dual sensor alarms cost at least $24, and wireless ones cost as much as $40. That’s a very reasonable price considering the kind of value they bring to your lives.
Based on your local building regulations, you may have to buy a specific kind of alarm. The fire marshal may know which one you need to buy. You could even get a free or discounted one through the local fire department.
Where shall I place these alarms?
You need a device on each floor and in each hallway. If someone smokes or burns things in the bedroom often, it may be a good idea. Although you most likely want to place your alarms up on top of the wall or even the ceiling, be sure to check the instructions for any recommendations on where is best to place the alarm.
Another good idea is to buy an interconnected chain of smoke alarms. That way, if one alarm sets off, all of them do. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations on where to install the alarm. You can have an electrician handle the installation of a wired or battery system.
- For every electronic system you use, you want to maintain it every now and then. A smoke alarm with a dead battery or ballast is a worthless alarm. To keep your house and belongings safe, make sure the alarms work at all times.
- The smaller the battery, the more often you should test it. A good rule is to replace the batteries every year.
- Check a wired alarm every month and replace the whole device every 10 years.
- Make any replacement based on the manufacturer’s directions.
If the smoke alarm starts to go off while you are taking a shower or cooking, the worst thing you can do is take out the battery or disable the alarm. What you should do is open a window and push the button on it that says “hush”. You can also start waving a towel in front of the alarm to clear all the surrounding air as well as move the alarm far away from the bathroom or kitchen.
Impact of Fire Safety Emergency Planning
On an average a family has less than 3 minutes from the time the first smoke alarm sounds to escape a fire.
The below table shows the impact of Smoke Alarms during Fires; with a staggering reduction of more than 55% in death rate, Smoke alarms bring a huge value to the safety aspect of our lives.
The death rate from reported fires in homes during 2007-2011 that had at least one smoke alarm (0.61 deaths per 100 fires) was 36% lower than in homes that had no smoke alarms at all (0.95 deaths per 100 fires.
Digging a little deeper, we see from the above representation that the death rates are highest when there are Smoke alarms but they did not operate during the fire. That’s why buying high quality alarms and maintaining the equipment becomes important.
A lot of people don’t seem to have a clear idea on how often they should replace the smoke alarms; here are the results from a 2008 survey:
Although a lot of people don’t have the right idea on what must be the right time to go for a replacement, factually, the smoke alarms must be properly maintained and be replaced after a period of 10 years.
Checklist for Smoke Alarms:
Choose a smoke alarm that bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
1. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement.
2. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home for the best protection. When one sounds, they all sound. Make sure you can hear the sound of the smoke alarm.
3. Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
4. Test your smoke alarms at least every month, using the test button.
5. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm. For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year. If that smoke alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
6. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smouldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms, are recommended.
Have you come up with a fire escape plan yet?
That is a question that homeowners should ask themselves. The problem is that many of them would say “No.” Every home and building needs to come with a good, sensible evacuation plan in case of a fire. The window that you are so fond of may not be available when a fire shoots out in front of it. Every household member must know the main exits along with the alternative ones. They must know exactly how to act if the alarm goes off or they see smoke. There should be a good plan to call for help and meet outside. With everyone in your house, hold a fire drill at least once a year.
If there are flames spread throughout the house, everyone must stay calm and remember their
guidelines. They should avoid entering areas that are very smoky or fiery and find an alternative way out. They could burn parts of their bodies very easily. If there is thick smoke, they should cover their mouths and noses with a shirt or blanket, if one is available. Staying close to the ground is the best way to breathe in oxygen. Open the window, if possible, to avoid smoke inhalation. If all the exits are covered in fire and there is no way out, you must stay put and call for help. In addition, be sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1. Do not forget the classic yet useful method to stop, drop, and roll in case a person is on fire.
Don't Forget Cooking Safety
Cooking safety is another measure to ensure your household does not catch on fire. While frying, grilling, or broiling food, never leave the kitchen. Even if you leave for just a second or there is no open flame, you should turn off the stove before leaving your food unattended.
While simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, make sure to stay home and check your food regularly by using a timer. Remember to keep anything that can catch fire such as potholders, towels, plastic, and clothing away from the stove.
In addition, keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops. This can prevent them from knocking things into the burner or heat source.
Know How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen or hallway is one of the best safety precautions ever. In a few quick bursts of power, it can put out a fire and prevent severe property damage. You could even carry a portable fire extinguisher as long as you know how to use it.
Five types of extinguishers that are designed to put out fire :
You must be careful before you put out a fire using an extinguisher. Make sure the fire is small and contained in a room that is not full of smoke. Memorize the word PASS to get the job done right:
Pull the pin. Keep firm hold of the extinguisher, point it away from the body and unlock the extinguisher.
- Aim low. Aim properly to avoid releasing chemicals into people’s eyes.
- Squeeze the lever slowly.
- Sweep the extinguisher from left to right.4
Maintain Your Fire Extinguisher Yearly :
Carbon monoxide is known as the "invisible killer" because it is colorless, odorless and invisible in the air. The poisoning is the deadliest when it seeps into the body of a sleeping person. When used in household products, monoxide poisoning kills over 150 people in the U.S. every year. This problem occurs when the gas leaks out of faulty generators, fuel burners and other appliances. That is why it is important to have proper ventilation while using these machines.
Carbon monoxide is undetectable to the eyes, ears and nose; so many people do not feel the effects until it is too late. Common symptoms include nausea, headaches and disorientation that come with any heavy inhalation of gas. Too much poisoning could lead to more severe issues like vomiting, unconsciousness and even death.
Prevent a Severe Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
To prevent anyone in your house from getting poisoned by carbon monoxide. The first step is to know how to use generators and other gas appliances properly. When you are not using it, turn it off, especially if you plan to sleep.
Place a carbon monoxide alarm in the right areas in the house, from the basement to the hallway. If the alarm sounds, either open the windows wide or evacuate everyone in the house. Make sure there is enough fresh air coming into the area. Never use any gas-emitting machine in a small, enclosed space like a bedroom or garage without some ventilation.
Taking the Proper Steps - After a Fire
After you put out a major fire, with or without an extinguisher, follow a few important safety guidelines for afterwards. Have a medical provider handle any injuries instead of trying to play a medic yourself. Have a fire department professional tell you whether or not it is safe to re-enter your house. Don’t enter the home until the fire department professional give the okay to do so.
When you do step back into the house, have the right gear on:
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