Fire Prevention Week is a great time for reviewing fire safety plans for your home, as well as preparing for any fire scenario that could unfold in your home. You have heard it said that failing to plan is planning to fail, but in this case, failure is not an option.
So where do you start in home safety planning? The first thing you need to ensure is that your home has the right number of smoke alarms installed. Did you know that if you have a fire in your Chattanooga home, smoke alarms can cut nearly in half your risk of dying in the fire? Smoke alarms sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air. They can detect both smoldering and flaming fires.
The American Red Cross offers these home smoke alarm tips:
In new homes: The National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms with battery back-up on every level of the home, outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Alarms must be wired together so that if one sounds, they all sound.
In existing homes: If smoke alarms are not already in place, at a minimum install them on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. If a fire occurs inside a bedroom, dangerous gases can cause heavier sleep. For the best protection, install interconnected smoke alarms in each bedroom and throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
To prevent nuisance alarms, vacuum cobwebs and dust from your smoke alarms monthly. Never disable a smoke alarm, even if you experience nuisance alarms while cooking or showering. Instead, use the alarm’s “hush” button. If nuisance alarms are a persistent problem, look for a different type of smoke alarm and ensure they are installed in correct areas in the home.
Use the test button to test your smoke alarms at least monthly. The test feature tests all electronic functions and is safer than testing with a controlled fire (matches, lighters, cigarettes).
If the manufacturer's instructions permit the use of an aerosol smoke product for testing the smoke alarm, choose one that has been examined and tested by a third-party product testing laboratory, and use it in accordance with the product instructions.
If you have battery-powered smoke alarms, replace the batteries at least once a year. Some agencies recommend that you replace batteries when the time changes from standard to daylight savings each spring and then back again in the fall. "Change your clock, change your batteries." Replacing batteries this often will not hurt, but fresh batteries typically last at least a year, so more frequent replacement is not necessary unless the smoke alarm begins to chirp.
If your local area does not observe daylight savings time, pick an easy-to-remember anniversary, such as your birthday or a national holiday, as the day to change the batteries each year.
Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide (CO) alarms at the same time you replace your smoke alarm batteries.
Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. This is the recommendation of the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time.
Be sure to install smoke alarms in areas where pets are and in other buildings that house animals where humans can hear them.
If a smoke alarm sounds in the middle of the night, it's too late to start making plans for fire safety. Did you know that you may have as little as two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm in your Chattanooga home sounds?
Time is of the essence when it comes to getting your family out of your home in the event of a fire, which is why having a safety plan in place and practicing it often is of critical importance.
According to Ready.gov, 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, but only 47% of those have practiced it. It is important to have a plan when there are children in your home. Children sometimes need help getting out of the house. They may not know how to escape or what to do unless an adult shows them.
Here are tips they offer for creating a home fire escape plan for your Chattanooga home:
Have a plan for young children who cannot get outside by themselves. You will need to wake babies and very young children and help them get out. In your plan, talk about who will help each child get out safely.
It is important to learn two ways out of every room in your home, in case one exit is blocked or dangerous to use.
Remember, if there is smoke, you need to get low and go to your exits. So practice getting low and moving to your exits.
Choose a safe meeting place a safe distance from your home. Children should know what to do when they hear a smoke alarm and there is no adult around. Help them practice going to the outside meeting place. Teach them to never go back inside a building that is on fire.
Have a home fire drill at least twice a year. So everyone can practice what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.
The most important thing to know in a home fire escape plan: Get out. Stay out. Call for help.
Make Fire Prevention Week a yearly re-assessment of your family’s fire safety plan but make fire safety a focus of your family all throughout the year.
Here are some helpful fire safety links: