National Fire Prevention Week Safety Tips

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Operation Save-A-Life

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA),three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes that do not have a smoke alarm or where the alarm didn't work - mainly due to dead or missing batteries. In addition, an American dies in a home fire nearly every three hours.

In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, read on for helpful information regarding home smoke alarms and life-saving fire prevention tips from the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health.

Home Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are extremely effective tools for preventing home fires and saving lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 65 percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms at all or in homes with no functioning smoke alarms.

Follow these tips to make sure your smoke alarms are keeping you safe:

- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home.

- Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button and replace batteries at least once a year or immediately if the alarm makes a chirping sound.

- Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer's instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling.

- Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year lithium (or long-life) batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner.

- Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

- If cooking fumes or steam sets off nuisance alarms, replace the alarm with an alarm that has a "hush" button. A "hush" button will reduce the alarm's sensitivity for a short period of time.

- An ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.

- Smoke alarms that include a recordable voice announcement in addition to the usual alarm sound, may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice.

- Special smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

- Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer's instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling.

- Special smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have other disabilities.

Home Fire Prevention

Make sure your home is safe from fire by reviewing these checklists for different areas of your home:

- An adult stays in the kitchen when food is being fried, grilled or broiled

- The stovetop is clean
- Pot handles are turned toward the back of the stove

- Space heaters are at least 3 feet from anything that can burn
- The chimney has been inspected or cleaned in the past 12 months
- The heating system has been inspected or cleaned in the past 12 months
- The fireplace has a sturdy screen to catch sparks
- Carbon monoxide alarms are located outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home

- Electrical cords are in good condition - not damaged, cracked or loose
- Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which reduce the risk of shock, are hard-wired into the electrical system or built into electrical outlets or extension cords
- Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), which shut off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs, have been installed in the home
- A qualified electrician performs electrical work in the home

- Smokers smoke outside
- Deep, sturdy ashtrays are provided for smokers
- Matches and lighters are kept up high and locked away

Exit Drills in the Home

It is important to have a plan to safely exit your home in case of a fire because when disaster strikes, you will not have time to come up with one. Review these exit drills in your home:

- Design a home escape plan by drawing a map of your residence that shows all exit paths, doorways and windows.

- Discuss your home escape plan with everyone in your household.

- Practice the plan night and day with everyone in your home twice a year.

- Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.

- Have a meeting place (something permanent, like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.

- Push the smoke alarm button to start the practice drill.

- Get out fast.

- Practice using different ways out.

- Teach children to escape on their own in case you can't help them.

- Close doors behind you as you leave.

- Go to your outside meeting place. Get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people, pets or valuables.

- Use your second way out in the case of an actual fire if smoke is blocking your door or the first way out.

- Get low and go under the smoke to get out safely if you have to escape through smoke.

- Feel the knob and door before opening a door. If they are hot, use your second way out.

- Consider getting escape ladders listed by a recognized testing laboratory for escaping from second and third floor windows if all other exits are blocked.

- Make sure the ladder fits the window.

- To avoid injury, only use the ladder in a real emergency

For more information regarding fire prevention and safety, visit the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center website.

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