Christmas Tree Safety | Fire Prevention Checks | Smoke Alarms | Electrical Safety Tips | Kitchen Safety Tips | Fire Extinguisher | Insurance | Safe Escape | Evacuation Plans
Christmas Tree Safety
A fresh tree should not lose green needles when tapped on the ground. Leave the tree outside until ready to decorate and cut one inch off the bottom of the trunk to allow the tree to absorb water. Clean the tree stand, which should hold at least one gallon of water, to improve the tree’s water intake, use one capful of bleach to a cup of water. A 6’ tree will use a half-gallon of water every day. Keep the tree away from all flames and heat sources. Before decorating the tree, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions concerning the installation and maintenance of the electrical decorations to determine the maximum number of light strings that may be connected together. Do not connect more than three light string sets together. Before plugging in newly purchased electrical decorations, or those you have used previously, carefully inspect each decoration for cracked sockets, frayed, loose, or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious electrical shock or start a fire. Electrical decorations could produce a deadly electrical shock if they are misused. Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing light bulbs or fuses. Do not mount or support light strings in any way that may damage the cords wire insulation. Turn off the general electrical lights and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. Never use candles, even on artificial trees. Dispose of the tree properly and consider recycling the tree.
Fire Prevention Checks
- Install smoke alarms near sleeping areas. Maintain them regularly.
- Keep bedroom doors closed at night.
- Don’t smoke in bed.
- Be sure cigarettes are completely extinguished before disposing. Use large, non- combustible ashtrays.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Combustible materials, such as oily rags, petroleum-based products, etc., should be stored in special containers or disposed.
- Disconnect and repair or discard electrical equipment that overheats.
- Correct possible ignition sources, such as worn or frayed extension cords.
- Exit routes should be unobstructed.
- Exit lights should be in good working order and lighting in corridors and stairwells should be adequate.
- Fire and exit doors and self-closing hardware should be in good working order.
There were 4,045 documented deaths from house fires in the U.S. in 2000, according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Through 94 percent of homes have at least one smoke alarm, too often they fail to alert inhabitants because of dead or missing batteries.
Improper maintenance is the reason most cited for smoke alarm failure. To properly maintain a smoke alarm:
- Test it monthly using the alarm’s test button and/or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Replace batteries at least annually, or if the alarm makes a “chirping” sound.
- Change batteries immediately upon moving into a new home.
- Never “borrow” batteries from your alarms for other purposes. Many times they don’t make it back to the detector.
- The NFPA recommends replacing an alarm every 10 years.
- Install a smoke alarm within 15 feet of each sleeping area and at the top of major access stairways.
- At a minimum, install one on each level of your home.
- Wall-mounted alarms should be installed so the top is 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling.
- Ceiling-mounted units should be installed at least 4 inches from any wall.
Electrical Safety Tips
- Plug all heart generating devices directly into wall outlets.
- Don’t yank on electrical cords.
- Don’t hang cords over nails, pipes, or with tacks
- Use only the correct type of fuses in your circuit box.
- Discard frayed wiring.
- Use listed appliances. Make sure your electrical appliances and cords bear the seal of the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
- Keep small appliances unplugged when not in use. Never yank on electrical cords.
- Do not overload circuits or sockets. Never use more than one high-wattage appliance on a circuit at a time. Use surge protection outlet bars meeting UL 1449 2nd Edition on sensitive electronic equipment, and check to make sure the device indicates it will not conduct electricity when it has failed.
- Ventilate electronic equipment. Make sure there is ample air circulation around TV’s, VCR’s, stereos, computers, especially if they are grouped near one another. Keep electronic equipment clear of accumulated lint that might decrease ventilation and add potential fuel for ignition.
- Do not hide extension cords. Extension cords should be in good condition and out in the open rather than under rugs, over hooks, or through door openings and partitions. Keep kinks out and use heavy-duty cord rated for electrical load being used. Cords are not meant to replace permanent wiring.
Kitchen Safety Tips
- Cook with care. Never leave food cooking unattended.
- Never carry a burning pan because you could easily get severely burned and spread the fire throughout your home.
- Do not wear frilly, long-sleeved, or loose fitting clothing while cooking.
- In the event you clothes could catch on fire - - stop, drop, and roll.
- Keep handles turned toward the center of the stove to prevent accidental over-turning and out of reach of children.
- Never use water or a fire extinguisher on a grease fire; it will cause the fire to flair and spread the flames. Keep a lid nearby to cover a pot or pan and smother the flames in the event of a fire.
- Keep the oven door closed in the event of a fire.
- Maintain your stove. Keep your stove in good condition and clean all grease deposits. Keep the cooking area clear of combustible items (i.e., rags, pot holders, newspaper, etc.)
Equip your home with an all-purpose class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher. Mount extinguishers close to exits and always keep your back to a door or exit way should extinguishment fail. Take a class on extinguisher use and show everyone in the house how to se them. If you only have one extinguisher, store it in the kitchen were files are most likely to occur.
No matter how many fire prevention measures you take in your home, there is still a chance that fire will strike. Make sure you have adequate insurance protection for your home and personal property.
The best kind or insurance for virtually everyone is a homeowners or renters policy. Homeowners insurance provides broad protection for your home and its contents. I also protects you in case of theft and includes coverage for personal liability. You don’t have to be a home owner to get the same kind of protection. A renters policy provides protection for your personal liability.
It’s a good idea to take an inventory of your personal property long before a tragedy strikes. Keep the list in a safe place outside your home. This will make it much easier for you to compile a list of the destroyed, damaged, or missing items. Keeping photographs of each room and the contents is also an excellent idea.
How to Decide if it is Safe to Escape
Feel the door for heat with the back of your hand.
- If it is hot, locate and try the other escape route.
- If it is not hot, stay law and get out. Close the door behind you (to compartmentalize the fire).
If both escape routes are blocked by fire ad heat, stay where you are. Call 911.
While waiting for help to arrive:
- Wet towel or rags and stuff them into the cracks of doors to prevent smoke from entering.
- If you are in a high rise and can get to a window, alert others of your location.
- Wait for help to arrive.
Have a diagram of your home or building.
- Know where all of your exits are located.
- Never block your exits.
- Have at least two ways out of every room.
- Never use the elevator during a high rise fire.
- Children, pets, and other valuables should be addressed in your evacuation plan.
- Make prior arrangements for occupants requiring assistance.
High Rise Buildings
- Know the location of all fire safety devises in your building.
- Designate or seek volunteers that can act as “Fire Wardens”.
- Organize by work groups, floors, sections, or department.
- Place copies of the plan throughout your home or office where everyone can see it.
Designate a safe meeting place outside the building
- Get out and stay out!
- Use a neighbors phone to call 911.
- Go to the designated meeting place where accounting for occupants is conducted.
Once every plan is completed, practice your plan at least twice a year so that everyone if familiar and will be ready in an emergency.