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FIRE KNOWLEDGE CENTRE

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

Smoke Detectors Save Lives - That Life May Be Yours: It's a proven fact. Smoke alarms installed and maintained properly can double your chances of surviving a fire. In most cases, victims suffocate from smoke before succumbing to the fire itself. Approximately 800,000 people are severely burned and millions of dollars of property is destroyed as a result of fire. Early warning systems, such as smoke alarms, could save half of these lives and greatly reduce property damage. Approximately 60 percent of all Indian fire deaths occur in the home. Fatal residential fires most often occur at night when residents are sleeping. In most cases, the best way to survive a residential fire is early fire detection and rapid escape to a safe area

 How to properly install your smoke alarm: Alarms that are hard-wired into the home electrical system should be installed by a qualified electrician. If the alarm plugs into a wall socket, make sure the outlet is not connected to a wall switch that will allow someone to accidentally turn off the electricity. Ensure the plug has a restraining device to keep it from being accidentally disconnected. Many detectors are battery powered and can be installed by the homeowner

How many smoke alarms do you need: For minimum protection, a smoke alarm is required near each separate sleeping area of a home as well as in the basement? Placement should be in the middle of the ceiling or on a wall, six to twelve inches below the ceiling. Smoke, heated air, and many toxic gases will rise and begin to mushroom down. For individuals who are difficult to awaken, it may be necessary to install an additional smoke alarm inside the bedroom. Additionally, it is recommended that there be at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home.

How do you maintain a smoke alarm: Smoke Alarm Maintenance Routine maintenance includes three basic steps: vacuuming, testing and changing the battery. Clean the smoke alarm monthly by gently vacuuming to remove dust and cobwebs allowing proper air flow through all vents. Test the smoke alarm every month. Replace the battery annually. Smoke alarms don't last forever. Any smoke alarm ten-years-old should be replaced.

HOME FIRE SAFETY: 

Install smoke detectors: A working smoke detector can alert you if there is a fire in your home. This provides early warning in time to escape a fire. Smoke detectors should be on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom. Test your detectors monthly and change the battery twice a year. Any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old should be replaced.

Plan your fire escape: If fire breaks out you have to get out fast. Prepare for a fire emergency by sitting down with your family and agreeing on an escape plan. Be sure that everyone knows at least two ways out from every room - doors and windows. Decide on a meeting place outside where everyone will meet after they escape. Practice these plans every 6 months. 

Keep an eye on smokers: Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in North America. Smoking in bed when you are drowsy can be deadly. Provide smokers with ashtrays and soak butts with water before discarding them. Before going to bed or leaving home after someone has been smoking, check under and around cushions and upholstered furniture for smoldering cigarettes. Ashes from cigarettes can retain heat for 48 hrs. 

Cook carefully: Never leave food unattended. Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles and wear clothes with short or rolled-up sleeves when you cook. Turn pot handles inward on the stove where you cannot bump them or children cannot grab them. If grease catches fire in a pan, slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames and turn off the heat. Leave the lid on until it is cool. 

Give space heaters space: Keep portable heaters and space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn. Keep children and pets away from heaters and never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed. Never refill kerosene heaters inside the house. The fumes are combustible and could catch fire.

 Playing with matches: Remember, matches and lighters are tools, not toys - in a child's hands, matches and lighters can be deadly. Use only child-resistant lighters and store all matches and lighters up high, where small children can't see or reach them. Teach your children that matches and lighters are tools, not toys, and should only be used by adults or with adult supervision. Teach young children that they should always tell a grown-up if they find matches or lighters.

Cool a burn: Run cool water over a burn for 10 to 15 minutes. Never put butter or any other grease or ointment on a burn. If the burned skin blisters or is charred, see a doctor immediately. Never use ice. 

Use electricity safely: If an electrical appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately, then have it serviced before using it again. Replace any electrical cords that are frayed or cracked. Don't overload extension cords or run them under rugs. Don't tamper with your fuse box or use improper size fuses. 

Crawl low under smoke: During a fire, smoke and poisonous gases rise with the heat. The air is cleaner near the floor. If you find smoke while you are escaping from a fire, find an alternate escape route. 

Stop, Drop and Roll: If your clothes catch fire, don't run. Stop where you are, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll side to side, over and over to smother the flames.

WHAT TO DO AFTER A FIRE:

You have just had one of the biggest shocks of your life. Your home suffered a fire; it may be a total loss, or minor in nature, either way you probably are wondering: What do we do now that the firefighters have gone?

Report you’re Fire: After all members of your household are safe and the firefighters have gone, telephone both your insurance agent and company and report your loss. 

Get Your Family Settled: If you cannot stay in your home, try to arrange staying with family or friends (keep in mind that it may be from several weeks to several months). Your insurance company will review your policy with you if long-term housing applies. 

Protect Your Property: You will be expected to take "reasonable care" to protect the remainder of your property. If the utilities were shut off (gas, water, electricity) then you should have professional service personnel check it before it is turned back on. Otherwise further damage can occur. Broken windows should be boarded up. 

Make a Damage Inventory: You should itemize all items damaged by the fire, list it room by room, list even the most insignificant items. Try to remember when you bought the item and how much you spent, save any receipts you may have. Do not throw anything away until you have agreed on a settlement! The insurance company will send a contractor out to estimate the damage. It would be advisable to have some damage idea before you accept any settlement offers. 

Talk With Your Insurance Company: You might disagree with your insurance companies offer. Discuss the matter in detail with the insurance adjuster and your agent. If you still disagree, turn the offer down and submit it to appraisal. The cost will be borne by both you and the company. There are also public adjusters that will assist you in preparing a damage inventory to the insurance company. Public adjusters charge a percentage of your settlement for their service.  

Mortgage Payments: Make sure to keep up your mortgage payments even after the fire unless the lender agrees (in writing) to some other arrangement. If you are renting or leasing, check on your lease agreement for a specific arrangement. You should check with your tax preparer for any tax credit you may be entitled to. 

HOME ESCAPE PLANNING:

Once a fire starts, it can spread rapidly. Halls and stairways may become filled with intense heat; poisonous gases and blinding smoke. Exits may be blocked, trapping you or your family. Protect your family by developing and practicing exit drills in the home starting today. Most fire deaths occur late at night while people are sleeping, you should practice your plan during the day and also practice one at night. Everyone should know exactly what to do if a fire occurs in your home. 

Plan Your Escape:  Gather your family together to discuss your plan. Draw a floor plan of your entire house. Include the doors, windows, stairs, halls, and balconies. Show two ways out of every room. One exit is your primary or normal route out of your home. A secondary o emergency exit should be identified in the event your primary exit is blocked. You may need to include safety ladders for second story windows. Check at your local hardware store.  Have a method of alerting the entire family when a fire is detected. Every home should have a working smoke detector. Plan a meeting place outside and away from the home. Make sure everyone is accounted for and that no one goes back into a burning house. Once out, stay out!

Practice Your Plan:  Have every member in your family participate. Everyone should be in the bedroom with the door closed. A closed door will hold back deadly smoke and hot gases. Sound the smoke detector, to alert the family. Roll out of your bed and crawl on the floor to the door. Remember smoke and heat rises, stay low to the ground. Feel the door with the backside of your hand. Pretend it feels hot. If hot, crawl to your secondary emergency exit. Practice a second time and pretend it feels cool. If your door feels cool to the touch, brace your shoulder against the door and open it cautiously. If hot heat and smoke rush in, closed the door immediately and go to your emergency exit. Everyone should meet outside at the assigned family meeting place. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

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