We are often asked, “What should I do to keep my family safe from fire?” There are 3 simple things to do to get started.
- Smoke Detectors - Smoke detectors provide you with an early warning to get out of the house. The National Fire Protection Association has determined that most fire deaths (73%) happen in homes without a working smoke detector. Having one smoke detector in your home will give you a 3-minute early warning (the time experts determined that it takes to get out of a house at night) 35% of the time, BUT by adding one detector on each level of your home, the early warning increases to 89% of the time.
So the first thing to do is install smoke detectors on each level of your home and one in each bedroom. Next "Change your Clock—Change Your Batteries." Even though all detectors make a short beeping sound when the battery is weak, DON'T WAIT FOR THE BEEP. The low battery warning is there in case you have a bad battery. You need to change your batteries in your detectors every 6 months. Clean your detectors. Dirt accumulates on your detectors, blocking the censor chamber. If smoke can't get in the detector, it can't work. Run the hose from your vacuum cleaner around the outside of the detector once a month.
- Evacuation Plans - Many people think "I know how to get out of my house." That is just not so. The truth is fire changes your environment. When there is a fire, smoke blocks your view and makes it hard to breath. There also are different smells and sounds. Plus, during an emergency your heart rate and thinking process jump into high gear. Critical problem solving during an emergency isn’t a good idea. Having a plan allows you to concentrate on the plan, making it easier to escape from your house. What needs to be in your plan? Have a diagram of your home showing primary and secondary routes out of your house. How you plan on getting smaller children and elderly adults out of the house? Have a meeting place outside for everyone to meet. This prevents you from going back into the fire to "rescue" someone when they are already out. Once you get out, Stay Out! Your plan should also include listing the locations of emergency equipment and information ... Fire extinguishers, Flashlights, Utility shutoffs, Emergency names & numbers. Finally, try out your plan. After trying out all aspects of your plan, rework any deficiencies and then conduct drills several times a year.
- Candles - Candles are quickly becoming one of the top causes of home fires. In the last decade, candle fires have tripled. In 2001 alone, an estimated 1,800 home fires started by candles resulted in 190 deaths and 1,450 injuries and estimated property loss over a quarter of a million dollars. Forty-one percent of those fires started in the bedroom causing 24% of the fire death caused by candles. So, here is what can you do ...
- Place candles on stable furniture, in holders that will catch dripping wax.
- Never leave a candle unattended. If the power goes out, use flashlights for illumination, not candles.
- Keep candles away from all things that can catch fire.
- Place candles on higher furniture, where they won’t be knocked over by children or pets.
- Never place lit candles in windows, where they could ignite blinds or curtains.
- Don’t allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
- Extinguish candles carefully, using a long-handled candle snuffer or soft, directed breath. Be careful not to splatter wax .
Change your Clock - Change Your Battery
Help save lives in your community - remind your family, friends, and neighbors to adopt a simple lifesaving change ...
In the spring and fall, when we adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings time, the Mifflin Township Division of Fire wants to remind residents to make another change that could save lives—changing batteries in your smoke detectors.
Communities nationwide witness tragic home fire deaths each year. An average of 3 children die daily in home fires, and 80% of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Nonworking smoke alarms rob residents of the protective benefits that home fire safety devices were designed to provide. The most commonly cited cause of nonworking smoke alarms are worn or missing batteries.
Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once yearly is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. In fact, working smoke alarms nearly cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire. Additionally, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends replacing your smoke alarms every 10 years.
To save lives and prevent needless injuries in Mifflin Township, the Department of Fire has joined forces with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Energizer for the "Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery" campaign. The program urges all Americans to adopt a simple, lifesaving habit—changing smoke alarm batteries when changing clocks back to standard time each fall.
The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 10:00p and 6:00a, when most families are sleeping. Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.
In addition, residents are encouraged to use the "extra" hour you save from the time change to test smoke alarms by pushing the test button, planning "two ways out," and practicing escape routes with the entire family. Families should also prepare a fire safety kit that includes working flashlights and fresh batteries.