According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), on average, seven people in the U.S. die every day in house fires. In 2011, fire departments responded to 370,000 home fires, resulting in $6.9 billion in damage. With Fire Prevention Week underway, the experts from Rave Mobile Safety, creators of the national public safety service, Smart911, are offering the following tips to help individuals and families prevent and handle fire related emergencies.
• Cook with Care: Cooking is the foremost cause of home fires and unattended cooking is the leading culprit. Stay in the kitchen when frying, broiling and grilling. Use a timer as a reminder that a stove is on, and if you need to leave even briefly, turn the appliance off. Don’t put things that can catch fire on a stovetop, including wooden utensils, oven mitts and food packaging, and keep curtains away. Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Have a lid on hand to smother small grease fires, and if there’s an oven fire, turn it off and keep the door shut. Don’t try to fight larger, uncontrollable fires - leave the premises, shut the door to contain it and call 9-1-1.
• Candle Caution: The NFPA notes that, on average, home fires caused by a candle are reported every 40 minutes. More than one-third of these fires start in the bedroom, half of them when potentially flammable items are placed close to a candle. Always use candle holders that won’t tip over, and, extinguish the flame before it burns down and gets too close to the holder. Keep candles on unclutter surfaces and never leave them unattended or in the care of children. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and never light them if medical oxygen is used in a home.
• Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: The leading cause of fire deaths are smoking materials. If you smoke, smoke outside. Remain alert; never smoke in bed and be aware that medicine, drugs and alcohol can make a person drowsy. Keep cigarettes, lighters and matches out of reach of children. Dispose of cigarettes properly by dousing them with water or sand.
• Heat Risks: Fires from heating sources pose risks, particularly during winter months. As a general rule, keep anything that can burn a minimum of three feet from these sources - children should also be kept the same distance away. An oven should never be used for heating purposes and always turn portable heating devices off before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Be Proactive, Plan & Practice: Do a proactive safety check of your residence. Test the function and batteries of smoke alarms. Make sure outlets are not overloaded with multiple plug-extenders or extension cords. Look at electrical wires and cords on appliances, devices, lamps, etc. to ensure they're not damaged or worn. Develop and practice a fire-escape plan, marking two ways out of each room, such as a door and a window. Select a spot outside and in front of a residence where all family members should meet in the event of a fire. Also, discuss fire dos and don'ts, including never exiting a door if it feels hot and staying low to avoid smoke inhalation.
Finally, Rave Mobile Safety urges citizens to create a Smart911 Safety Profile containing details about their household that they want 9-1-1 to have during an emergency. This critical information is automatically displayed to 9-1-1 during an emergency call and can be immediately relayed to response teams in the field. In the event of a fire, Smart911 can offer vital details to help fire crews provide faster, more precise response, including such information as:
• How many residents live at a home and the locations of bedrooms to support search efforts.
• If there is a citizen with a mobility limitation who may need special equipment to be evacuated.
• Where utility shut off locations are to prevent further problems.
• If a family member has a disability such as autism and has a safe spot in which they would hide.
• If there are pets in the home that need to be located and rescued.
More tips and safety information can be found by following Smart911 on Facebook and Twitter (@smart911).
Introduced nearly three years ago by Rave Mobile Safety, the trusted software partner for campus and public safety, Smart911 has been adopted in 32 states and more than 400 municipalities. It has been credited with positively impacting emergency situations across the U.S., including a missing child case in Arkansas, and saving lives, such as a heart attack victim in Nashville.