The Fire Prevention Bureau provides up-to-date and relevant information to the community about potential fire hazards and best methods for prevention.
If you have battery operated smoke alarms in your home, this might be a good time to consider replacing them. If they are older than 10 years or have passed the manufacturer’s recommended life span, they should be replaced regardless. In either case, you might want to consider replacing your smoke alarms with newer technology. Today, you can purchase a ten year battery operated smoke alarm. These smoke alarms can be purchased for under $20 at a local home improvement center.
Smoke alarms are an inexpensive insurance policy you can purchase to protect yourself and your family. If you have older alarms, make sure you test your alarm every month and always have fresh batteries that are changed every year. If you wait for the low battery indicator to begin chirping it could be too late; you might be on vacation and miss the warning resulting in a non-functioning device.
It is recommended to have a minimum of one alarm on each floor, one within 15 feet of all sleeping areas and one in each bedroom (bedroom smoke alarms are recommended because many people sleep with their bedroom doors closed preventing the alarm outside the room from activating). In past years, the problem was homes without smoke alarms. Today, the problem is homes with smoke alarms that do not work. Be sure to check that you have working smoke alarms.
Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 14. Each year, approximately 488 children ages 14 and under die in residential fires and another 116,600 are injured by fire- or burn-related incidents. Children ages 4 and under are at much higher risk for these injuries than adults.
Two out of three times when a child is injured or dies from a residential fire, a smoke alarm is not working or not present. Having a working smoke alarm is very important. It reduces the chance of dying in a fire by nearly half. That is why it is important to practice fire safety in the home and take all necessary precautionary steps to ensure the safety of your family.
Safety Away From Home
Not all fires occur at home. While a majority of fires do occur in the home, some of the largest and most devastating fires occur in places of public assembly such as hotels, theaters and nightclubs. These places can become dangerous for many reasons including overcrowding, blocked exits, flammable decorations, lack of sprinklers, and many more.
Some of the steps you can take to practice safety away from the home including:
- Refuse to sleep, eat or attend events in establishments and hotels that don’t have fire sprinklers.
- Always locate the nearest fire exits when you enter so you can quickly find your way out in an emergency.
- Locate the nearest fire extinguisher and alarm pull station.
- If the event is overcrowded, leave and contact the local fire department to report it.
- Contact the fire department if you find locked or blocked fire exits or other fire code violations.
- Quickly and calmly leave the building immediately in the event of an emergency.
- Never use the elevator in a fire, it may stop and trap you on the floor where the fire may be; always use the stairways.
- If trapped by fire in a hotel or office, keep the door closed, stuff wet towels around door cracks and HVAC vents. Use the phone to contact 911 and report your location to the fire department.
Homes under construction have many hazards that can result in a fire. The causes of these fires include but are not limited to:
- Careless electrical wiring.
- “Hot Works” - The use of various torches by tradesman without adequate protection for surrounding combustibles.
- Poor housekeeping by the contractors.
- Unmonitored temporary heating units.
- The use of stains and varnishes that can spontaneously ignite if rags and materials are not disposed of properly.
All construction sites should have fire extinguishers properly mounted in a conspicuous location for easy access. A safety inspection should be done daily to ensure hazards do not exist that can result in a fire or injury.