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Home Safety - Newsletter


National Nonprofit Urges Families to Take Action During Fire Safety Month in October

The national nonprofit Home Safety Council (HSC) has released new national survey results revealing that only 37 percent of respondents have taken any actions at home to prevent fires and burns – the third leading cause of injury-related death in the home.

When asked about fire safety practices, a mere 13 percent of respondents said they have planned and practiced a family fire drill – an essential step that increases the ability to respond quickly and appropriately in the event of a fire. While the majority of fatal fires happen at night, HSC also found that only half of those surveyed (51 percent) have installed smoke alarms in their bedrooms. Additionally, only eight percent of respondents live in a home protected by fire sprinklers.

"Unfortunately, our research indicates that too many families don't understand or appreciate the danger of home fires and as a result, have not taken even the most basic steps to prepare for a fire emergency," said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "With less than three minutes to escape if a fire occurs, every home needs a well-rehearsed escape plan and working smoke alarms. They are critical to saving lives."

The Home Safety Council is also a strong advocate for increased installation of home fire sprinkler systems, which will put out or keep the fire small until the fire department arrives.

During Fire Safety Month and year-round, HSC is advising families to take action and follow the steps below to help curb the more than 3,400 fatalities caused by fires and burns in the home every year.

Fire Safety Basics

Having working, interconnected smoke alarms installed on every level of the home is the most effective way to alert the entire family when a fire strikes. But, survival depends on each person being prepared and knowing exactly what to do in a fire emergency – and then doing it. HSC offers the following guidelines for household smoke alarms and fire escape plans:

Installing and Testing Smoke Alarms:

  • Only purchase smoke alarms that are listed by a national testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL; look for the listing mark on packaging.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. At the least, make sure there is an alarm near every sleeping area.
  • HSC recommends installing additional smoke alarms inside all bedrooms.
  • For the best detection and notification protection, install both ionization- and photoelectric-type smoke alarms throughout. Some models provide dual coverage.
  • Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings.
  • Choose an installation location that is well away from the path of steam from bathrooms and cooking vapors from the kitchen, which can result in nuisance alarms. Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Test each smoke alarm every month. Push the test button until you hear the alarm.
  • Put new batteries in your smoke alarms at least one time each year, and any time the alarm signals low battery power (typically a chirping noise).
  • HSC recommends using interconnected smoke alarms. These alarms are available with wireless connection and hard-wired with battery back-up. Interconnected alarms are linked together so that if one alarm detects a fire, they all signal together.
  • If your smoke alarms are 8-10 years old, get new smoke alarms.

Plan and Practice a Family Fire Drill:

  • Make a fire escape plan with every member of your family. Sketch out a map of your home, including all rooms, windows, interior and exterior doors, stairways, fire escapes and smoke alarms.
  • Make sure windows and doorways open easily and unlock easily from the inside, without a key. Make sure stairs and doorways are never blocked. Look for these and other things that could slow down your escape.
  • If you have security bars on doors and windows, have a "quick-release" latch on the inside. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to use the latch.
  • Find two ways out of every room – the door and maybe the window. You might need an escape ladder to get out of upstairs windows. If so, they should be part of your fire drill. Select two escape routes from each room and mark them clearly on the plan.
  • Children and many older adults will need help escaping a fire. Plan for this. Know who needs help and pick an able family member to help them. If anyone in the household has a hearing impairment, purchase special smoke alarms that use strobes and/or vibrations to signal a fire.
  • As a family, agree on a place to meet in front of your home. Use a portable phone or a neighbor's phone to call 911 in a fire emergency. Once you get out, don't go back inside for anything.
  • Make copies of the escape plan sketch and post them in each room until everyone becomes familiar with them.
  • Practice makes perfect. Hold family fire drills frequently and at various times until the escape plans become second nature. Once you've mastered the escape process, hold a drill when family members are sleeping so you can test each family member's ability to waken and respond to the smoke alarm.

Home Fire Sprinkler Systems: An Added Layer of Protection

With recent research revealing that 41 percent of adults do not know that fire sprinklers are a safety option for their home, HSC is working to raise awareness for this life-saving technology by educating consumers that a residential sprinkler system is the best protection from fires. Home fire sprinklers detect the high heat from a fire and put water on the flames within seconds of a fire starting, limiting the smoke, heat and poison gases that a fire produces. Sprinklers will put the fire out or keep it small until firefighters arrive; giving residents more time to escape. Fire sprinklers also protect property and belongings.

If you are buying a home or moving to a new apartment, choose one with a fire sprinkler system. If you are building a home or remodeling your existing home, consider having a home fire sprinkler system installed. Talk to your local fire department for help finding a qualified home fire sprinkler installer.

Visit MySafeHome.org to Create a Home Fire Safety Plan

Through its new, interactive online safety destination - MySafeHome.org - HSC provides simple room-by-room tips to help families make each area of the home safe from fire dangers, indoors and out. The site offers the opportunity to explore a virtual home and learn about the safety actions and technology that can protect against fires and the other leading causes of home injury – in every area of the home. MySafeHome.org offers one-click access to simple, straightforward tips and checklists to help families take a room-by-room approach to make the entire home safe.

For additional tips to protect against fire in each area of the home and to see a demonstration of a home fire with and without fire sprinklers, please visit: www.mysafehome.org.

About MySafeHome.org

HSC's new, interactive home injury prevention teaching tool, MySafeHome.org, brings comprehensive home safety to life for visitors. The Web site invites visitors into a virtual home where state-of-the-art digital animation identifies major risk areas, room-by-room, indoors and out, and presents the key safety devices and preparedness plans that are important for every safe home.

Home Safety - Tour MySafeHome

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