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Protect your family from fire

ARA Content

(ARA) – According to the National Fire Protection Association, 2,670 people were killed in home fires in 2002. That is a frightening statistic, but the good news is there are steps you can take to make sure your home is not at risk for a fire, as well as ways to plan for the worst case scenario.

Most of the causes of home fires are within your control. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. Cooking fires are often the result of unattended cooking and human error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Eliminating smoking in your home takes care of that risk factor. If you must smoke, never smoke in bed. Heating is the third leading cause of residential fires, mostly due to lack of maintenance.

Aside from addressing maintenance and common sense issues, the simplest step you can take for fire safety is to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home. Approximately half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms. The majority of fatal home fires happen at night, when people are sleeping. “Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person,” notes Jeff Sheldon, president of Bold Industries, a company that manufactures and distributes a variety of home fire safety products. Fire alarms alert you to a fire, giving you time to escape. But once the fire alarm sounds, chaos erupts –you’re awake, but now what do you do?



Which brings us to the importance of having a formal fire escape plan in place for your family. “When a fire occurs, there’s no time to stop and decide what to do. Your response and your family’s response need to be automatic and immediate,” Sheldon emphasizes. Fire can grow and spread through your home in a matter of minutes. It’s important that you be prepared to react as soon as the smoke alarm sounds. The only way to do that is to have a plan and to practice it. You should have a plan in place for your main residence, vacation home, or any other dwelling where your family spends time.

Statistics show that only 25 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Why not take an hour tonight to call a family meeting and get the process going? Here’s a step-by-step guide to putting a customized plan in place for your family:



* Get the whole family involved in planning escape routes. You should have at least two ways out of each room. Since this may include windows, make sure everyone in the family can unlock and open windows in the house, and be sure none of these windows are painted or nailed shut. You’ll also want to have escape ladders in each room with an upstairs window as an escape route.

* Teach family members to test doors before opening them in event of a fire. If the door is hot to the touch, use another escape route; if the door is cool, open it with caution.

* Make sure that everyone understands the plan and recognizes the sound of the smoke alarm. Start your plan with a drawing of each level of your home, using an actual floor plan, if possible. Mark existing exits, and make sure there are exit strategies for both sides of stairwells, since stairwells can act like a furnace.



* When the alarm sounds, leave immediately; don’t stop for anything. This includes possessions.

* Agree on a meeting place outside where everyone will gather after they escape. Take a headcount to make sure everyone is accounted for, and only then designate one person to go for help.

* Make sure everyone knows that once they’re out, they should stay out.

* Practice your plan at least twice a year.

* Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan. When visiting other people’s home ask about their plan.

In addition to working smoke detectors, there are a few other items that you should have in your home in case of a fire. Fire extinguishers and escape ladders can provide added protection.

Place fire extinguishers on each floor of your home. Make sure you have one in the kitchen and in the garage. Make sure to use an all-purpose extinguisher in the kitchen so it can be used on grease and electrical fires.

An emergency escape ladder provides a safe means of getting out of your home when all other exits are unavailable. Bold Industries recommends The QuickEscape Emergency Escape Ladder, which is UL approved, tested to support over 1,000 pounds and designed to fit walls up to 10 inches thick. “This is the strongest emergency ladder on the market,” says Sheldon. The 12-foot ladder is designed for windows up to two stories off the ground.

It takes just seconds to get the ladder ready to use: Simply place the ladder hooks over the window sill and climb down the ladder to safety. Bold Industries also carries escape ladders that will reach the third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors.

Organizing an escape plan and putting in place the proper tools you’ll need in event of a fire doesn’t take very much time, and it may save your life — and the lives of your family members. A little advance planning and practice can pay off in a safe escape .

For more information on emergency escape ladders, visit http://www.emergencyladders.com or call (800) 736-4022.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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