Fire Safety Tips for Homes
- Install and maintain a working smoke detector on every level of your home. Test your smoke detector monthly and change the battery annually. The smoke detector should be replaced routinely every ten (10) years.
- Plan two escape routes from every room and arrange a meeting place outside your home (oak tree, mailbox, neighbor’s front porch, etc.). Practice your escape plan with all members of your family. Check and make sure your windows are easy to operate even by your children. Once you leave your home never re-enter for any reason.
- Never smoke in bed or when drowsy.
- Cooking safety: Never leave food, especially grease, unattended on the stove. If a fire should start in a pan, carefully slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Never put water on a grease fire. Never let your children play in the kitchen when you are cooking. Children under the age of five (5) are at the greatest risk of being burned. Also, turn the pot and pan handles to the inside so that they cannot be bumped or pulled over. Keep the stove top and oven clean and clear. Always wear tight-fitting or rolled-up sleeves when cooking. Never carry a child and hot food/liquids at the same time.
- Electrical safety: Never use an extension cord smaller than the cord on the appliance or fixture. Use only one extension cord to one appliance. The extension cord should be as short as possible (i.e., don’t use a fifty foot extension cord if a three foot one will reach). Check fixtures for frayed or damaged wiring. Pets have been known to chew on wires. If a circuit in your home continues to trip the breaker or blows the fuse, have an electrician check it. Never place a penny or other metal object in a fuse box. Never place an electric radio or hair dryer near the bathtub while bathing.
- Workshop and storage area safety: Always store gasoline in an approved container. Use gasoline as a motor fuel and never as a cleaning agent. Let motors of mowers and other gasoline equipment cool down before refueling. Always store paint and other flammable liquids far away from appliances, heaters, pilot lights, and other sources of flame or heat. Never smoke while using or close to flammable liquids.
- Outdoor safety: Use outdoor cooking grills with caution. Never use gasoline to start a fire, and do not apply charcoal lighter fluid or gasoline once the fire is started. Use cooking grills outside only, not on porches or balconies, and away from vegetation and combustibles. Never store propane cylinders inside. Never pour gasoline onto the ground to kill fire ants or yellow jackets. Never start a fire for outdoor burning of yard trimmings.
- Heater safety: When buying portable heaters be sure that they are U.L. or F.M. Listed and approved for the type of use you desire. Follow all manufacturers’ instructions carefully when using electric or kerosene heaters. Portable heaters need to be at least three (3) feet from all combustible items. Keep children away from heaters. Be sure that the heater has an automatic shut-off in case it is tipped over. Never use the same fuel can for gasoline in the summer and kerosene in the winter. Use proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide from building up; also, install a carbon monoxide detector in the home. The Standard Fire Prevention Code Section 504.1.4 states that the use of any liquid fuel unvented heating appliance shall be permitted in one and two family dwellings only.
- Fireplace safety: Chimneys and fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected annually by a chimney sweep service. Creosote can build up and ignite your chimney, roof, or house. Do not use flammable liquids to start your fire in the fireplace. Keep a screen in front of the fire to keep embers from popping into the house. Put hot ashes in metal containers outside of the home to cool. Make sure tree limbs are at least ten (10) feet away from the chimney.
- Protecting your children from scald burns: In a matter of seconds, a child can get life-threatening burns. Here are some items to keep in mind:
- Know how to use fireworks safely: Fireworks can be very dangerous when used improperly. Read and follow all directions. Small children should not play with fireworks. Parents should supervise all children when fireworks are involved. If a firework should misfire, leave it alone – there could be a delay in ignition. Never place any fireworks in your pockets. Keep fireworks in a cool, dry place. If you clothes should catch on fire, remember to stop, drop, and roll.
Fire Safety Tips for Apartments
Before a Fire Happens:
- Locate the pull stations and learn how to operate them.
- Have two plans of escape from your apartment and practice them with your family. Never use an elevator.
- Test your smoke detector monthly and replace the battery annually.
- Know your emergency phone number. In Greenwood County, the emergency phone number is 911.
When a Fire or Smoke is Discovered:
- If you find a fire or smoke, activate the fire alarm, no matter how small. Then call the fire department. Do not depend on anyone else to call.
- If you are in your apartment and the fire alarm is activated, get your family together. Feel the door with the back of your hand to see if the door is hot. If it is not hot, open the door slightly to check for smoke and fire. If it is clear, leave the building quickly and calmly, closing your apartment door behind you. Bring your key with you.
- If there is light smoke or it is dark, crawl to the exit. Remember smoke and toxic gases rise.
- If you encounter heavy smoke and heat, try your second escape route.
- If both routes are blocked, return to your apartment.
What to do if you are trapped in your apartment by fire and smoke:
- Stay calm and do not panic.
- Keep your door closed.
- Place wet towels and duct tape around the cracks of the doors. This will help keep out smoke and toxic gases.
- Turn off heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
- Go to a room with an outside window.
- Open the top and bottom of the window slightly. This will let fresh air in the bottom and smoke out the top.
- Place a sheet or towel out the window to signal the fire department.
- If possible, call the fire department and let them know you are trapped.
Fire Safety Tips – People With Disabilities
For Emergencies Plan Ahead
If you are disabled, think about what you should do in case of fire, and talk it over with others. The Greenwood Fire Department can help you make a practical escape plan. Include other household members in your plan.
Live Near an Exit
If you live in an apartment, you will be safest on the ground floor. In a two-story house, arrange to sleep on the first floor. Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier. If necessary, have a ramp constructed for emergency exits. Be sure to have a telephone by your bed.
Install Smoke Detectors
A working smoke detector can save your life in case of fire, warning you while there is still time to escape. Have your smoke detector installed outside your sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. Have them tested monthly according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Be sure to have the batteries replaced at least once a year. Special smoke detectors that use a strobe light or vibrator to alert hearing impaired people are available.
Your Fire Department Can Help
You should let the Fire Department know about your special needs, and ask them for suggestions as you make your escape plan. Memorize the Fire Department emergency number (911), and post it on all phones. Make sure your address is clearly marked so that firefighters can see it from the street.
Fire Safety Tips – Holiday Safety
Holiday homes are beautiful. The season is joyous. And, there is an ever-present threat of fire if safety practices are not observed.
Winter holidays and candles go together. The symbolize joy, warmth, security, and light. If you use candles or other open flame in your household decorations, remember these safety tips.
- Keep flames well away from anything that will burn (i.e., upholstered furniture, curtains, lampshades, and flammable holiday decorations).
- Never leave a flame unattended, eve for a moment, and keep children and pets away from all fires.
- If a candle is used in arrangement with greens, be sure the candle is in a stable glass enclosure. Keep the greenery moist, and discard it as soon as it begins to dry.
Christmas trees are the most prevalent and most beautiful of all decorations. Whether you have a cut tree or a living (container) tree, keep it well watered.
- No matter how charming the tradition, never use real candles on or near the tree.
- Christmas lights should be approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as shown by the UL tag on the cords.
- Never use strings of lights that have frayed or broken cords.
- Do not overload electric outlets or overuse extension cords. Demanding too much current from your circuits can make wiring overheated and start fires inside your walls.
- Purchase only living trees with root balls or freshly cut trees. Some cut trees were harvested months earlier and are dangerously dry by the time you shop for your tree. Test freshness by closing your thumb and your forefinger around a branch and pulling toward the branch tip. The needles should feel soft and springy, and very few should drop to the ground.
- When you get your tree home, cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk and place the tree in water. The cutting step is important because a cut tree tries to “heal” its trunk by sealing it with its own sap, which prevents the tree from taking up water.
- Use a stand that holds plenty of water so that the tree will not dry out. A tree can become a flaming torch in a matter of a few seconds with a fire a so hot that it can engulf an entire room in less than two minutes.
Do not block doorways or hallways with your tree. In a fire, seconds count and every possible exit should be available.