Statistics about fire are frightening. In America, about 30,000 people are injured and nearly 4,800 die from fire each year. This rate is lower than in most other countries. Differences in fire codes, building and electrical standards, and even firefighting capabilities can increase your threat from fire if you live overseas.
Three vital facts you should know about fire:
❑It isn’t usually fire that kills, it is the products of combustion—smoke, toxic gases, or superheated air.
❑Fire travels at lightning speed—up to 19 feet per second.
❑The critical hours for a house fire are 11 PM to 6 AM when most people are asleep.
This means you need to detect fire early, and you must move quickly when you do. You and your family can avoid becoming a statistic if you:
❑ Install smoke detectors in your home.
❑ Create and practice a fire escape plan.
❑Take fire preventive measures such as those listed on the next page.
A smoke detector can mean the difference between life and death. They are inexpensive and are battery operated; they are not at the mercy of sporadic electrical service. You should have one on every level of your home, particularly in the hallway outside bedrooms. Test your detectors regularly, and replace the batteries as needed—usually twice a year.
You and your family should create a fire exit plan together. Learn how to escape the house from every room. Locate two exits from each bedroom. Designate a meeting place outside the house. Most importantly—especially if you have children—PRACTICE YOUR PLAN!
Carelessness with cigarettes is the most frequent cause of house fires. Never smoke in bed!
Open flames and the resulting sparks are dangerous. Don’t place barbecue grills or other open flames on the balcony or near the house.
Check for: faulty electrical wiring; overloaded circuits; faulty equipment, including cooking and heating appliances; leaking propane tanks; overloaded or frayed extension cords; dirty chimneys and vents; and flammable liquids.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the house, preferably one on every level but particularly in the kitchen. Teach older children and household help how to use the extinguisher.