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Fire Safety
05/04/2005

Summer heat may remove the need for using heaters at home, but fires still pose a danger. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), 4,000 Americans die and 25,000 are injured due to fires each year.

Families should be just as cautious about fire safety in the summer as they are in the winter. Although the danger of heaters is gone, there are other hazards that could cause fires.

According to the USFA, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire in less than 30 seconds. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house. A house can be engulfed in flames in minutes. The most important thing a home can have is a working fire alarm to alert a family to get out quickly. The USFA recommends the following safety tips:

  • Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm – Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It's inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Prevent Electrical Fires – Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
  • Use Appliances Wisely – When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
  • Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers – When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
  • Plan Your Escape – Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help. 
  • Caring for Children – Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, children set over 20,000 house fires every year. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Caring for Older People – Every year over 1,200 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can't respond quickly.

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