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Fire Safety - Choices That Fight Fire Devastation

Snapshot & Benefits:
Fire threatens homes from two different directions... inside and outside. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were over 360,000 residential fires resulting in 2,450 deaths, 13,900 injuries, and over $6.6 billion of home damage in 2011 alone.  Consequently, it is not only important to understand what to do in the event of a fire, but to actively help avoid costly, dangerous fires in your home by implementing preventative measures. 

From the outside, drought and wildfire set the stage for homeowner anxiety. However, taking action now reduces future worries. In a process known as creating defensible space, a homeowner can diminish the wildfire threat.

When your home burns, it's really not important whether a chimney fire, a candle, an electrical problem, or a full-force wildfire started the house blazing. The important thing is that the fire is recognized immediately so that people and pets get to safety and the fire department has the opportunity to salvage the property. 

Estimated Cost Savings:
While costs can range from less than $500 to a few thousand dollars for the electrical enhancements that create a smoke detection network, these expenses can often be reduced by combining the work with a remodeling project or other electrical improvements.

A homeowner can tackle many of the tasks related to the creation of defensible space to help control costs. And there are always things that can be done to improve fire safety with little or no cost... like identifying escape routes, designating a meeting place, testing your smoke detectors and practicing fire drills.

Getting It Done:
To maximize your home's fire protection, follow the following guidelines:

1.     Install hard-wiring and interconnecting smoke detectors.  These deliver a solid response to the possibility of a fire and can decrease your chances of death by 50%.  Interconnecting detectors produce a simultaneous response around the house when smoke is detected causing all detectors to sound.  For best results, install smoke detectors with battery back-up in case the wiring is damaged in the fire, inhibiting its proper function.

2.     Check the electrical wiring in your home to ensure potential dangers are eliminated or corrected.  Consider consulting a professional to complete the inspection.

3.     Clean out storage areas, especially those with large amounts of flammable material (newspaper, files, magazines, trash, etc.).

4.     Check sources of heat around your home.  Make sure furnaces, stoves, and fireplaces are working properly.  Clean all home heating systems annually to avoid flammable build-up.

5.     Install A-B-C type fire extinguishers.  These extinguishers work for all types of fires (wood or paper, flammable liquid or grease, and electrical) and are, therefore, the best type to keep around your home.  Make sure everyone in the home knows how to operate the extinguisher properly.  Keep your extinguisher near an exit to prevent fire from blocking your way out.

6.     Be sure to extinguish cigarettes completely before disposal.  Do not smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated to avoid improper disposal.

7.     Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

8.     Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top.  Make sure your chimney extends at least three feet higher than your roof.

9.     Make sure all vents are in good operating condition.

 

To help avoid damage from forest fires, consider the following additional measures:

1.     Trim all dead branches and those within fifteen feet of our home. 

2.     Do not plant anything within 3-5 feet of the home, including directly around decks and patios. 

3.     Store firewood at least 75 feet away from any structures.

4.     Maintain your yard year round.  Mow the grass and rake leaves and pine needles to reduce flammable material that can cause the fire to spread easily.

5.     Consider consulting experts in fire-safe landscaping and design (firescaping).  They can help you make sure that your home is properly fitted for fire prevention.

Create an evacuation plan with your family and run a few practice drills (especially if you have small children).  If caught in a home during a fire, stay low to the ground (underneath the smoke) and head for the nearest possible exit.  Stop, drop, and roll if your clothing catches fire.  Running or panicking will only cause the clothing fire to spread faster. Consult your local fire department for more fire safety tips and guidelines.

More Information On This Topic:

Video: How firefighters are protecting homes in the Black Forest Fire



National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program

Fire Safe Council

National Interagency Fire Center

National Fire Protection Association

U.S. Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

Red Cross Disaster Family Plan

Emergency Preparedness Guide - Jefferson County, Colorado

National Safety Council - Fire Prevention and Preparedness

 

 


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