Fires are frightening and devastating. They can happen anywhere, both inside and outside of your residence. We feel fire prevention is so critical that we are devoting two newsletters to this important subject. This issue, we will cover resident planning and exterior fire prevention. In our next issues, we will cover interior items.
Conduct a resident/family meeting and develop a plan. This is important for both interior and exterior fires.
- Everyone should be aware of what can happen when there is a fire. Plan a meeting or meetings to discuss what can cause fires, how to prevent them, and how to handle them if they occur. Make sure to include all residents, including minors.
- Regularly test the smoke alarm/detector and if it has a battery, replace it when necessary.
- Never disconnect a smoke alarm/detector, particularly because it is beeping – it can save lives. A beeping smoke alarm generally means that the battery is dead.
- Find different ways for everyone to sound an alarm – they can yell, pound on a wall, whistle, etc. Do not just rely on the smoke alarm/detector.
- If someone is hearing impaired, figure out how to alert them, such as vibration, flashing lights, or another method.
- Organize critical documents in advance to take if there is time but be sure every resident knows escaping safely is the most important thing.
- Store important documents/computer files in another location.
- Determine an escape plan from every room in the house – if possible, every room should have two means of escape and rope ladders are useful for evacuating upper floors, unless there is a fire escape in the building or outside stairs.
- If the fire is an outside fire, work out evacuation routes and transportation to escape.
- Post emergency numbers by or on the telephone. Train everyone on how to call 911 and give the correct information if there is time.
- Make a plan where everyone knows to meet after a fire occurs.
Here are simple steps to prevent exterior fires.
- It is crucial to keep landscape watered all year round. Dry bushes and grasses are fires waiting to happen.
- Keep grasses mowed and trimmed wherever possible to avoid areas that could kindle easily and keep debris picked up. It is particularly important to keep grasses trimmed around the residence.
- Never put hot ashes from a fireplace in a garbage receptacle, on a wood deck or porch, or on any grassy area – it only takes a spark to start a major fire.
- Make sure cigarettes are disposed of properly and never toss into dry grass or debris.
- Never store newspapers, boxes, or any other debris against the residence that could easily burn.
- When using a barbecue grill outside, leave sufficient space away from siding and eaves.
- Always supervise a grill until it is cold, and in the case of gas grills, be sure hose connections are tight and check hoses for leaks.
- Never store gasoline near a possible ignition source and never smoke when handling gasoline; store gasoline in proper containers approved by the local or state fire authorities.
- Only start a lawnmower several feet from the residence and away from any area that could possibly ignite, such as dry grass.
- Do not use fireworks around your residence – attend professional fireworks display where you can truly enjoy a spectacular event and avoid a fire.
Utilize this information to plan for your household safety and prevent exterior fires. In the next issue, we will cover interior fire prevention, as well as what to do when fires happen.