Because October is National Fire Prevention Month, we want to remind our readers that the best investment they will ever make in home safety is to have a properly functioning smoke detector installed in every bedroom of their residence.
New technology — such as dual sensor smoke alarms that warn of both flame and smoke — has made these essential devices even more effective. Dual sensor alarms use both ionization and photoelectric technologies. An ionization smoke alarm warns of flaming fires, such as a cooking fire. The photoelectric alarm is more responsive to a smoldering fire, such as that from overheated wiring.
Firefighters say having a properly functioning smoke detector in the home more than doubles a person’s chances of surviving a house fire. And a smoke detector that has had its battery drained or removed is of no use in alerting a family to a fire.
Tennessee routinely ranks among the top five states in the nation when it comes to the number of residents killed in house fires. Many of those lives might have been saved by a fully functioning smoke detector. That means a smoke detector should be tested regularly.
If you have a neighbor, friend or relative who is elderly or in poor health, it might be a good idea to check their smoke detectors to make sure they are operating properly. Johnson City residents can also call 975-2840, and a firefighter will come inspect your smoke detector. The city will also install a smoke detector if needed.
Autumn has brought a nip in the air, which means some homeowners are turning on the heat in the mornings. But before you turn up the thermostat it’s important to make sure all heating devices are free of flammable obstructions that might ignite a fire.
Every fall there comes a story or two of a family left homeless by fire started by an auxiliary heater located too close to a flammable object. Taking a few simple precautions — such as keeping these devices away from curtains and drapes — can spare your family from such a tragedy.
The kitchen is another area home where residents should be concerned. More than 100,000 fires reported in the United States annually involve cooking equipment, and most are caused by unattended cooking.
Here are some other tips that state officials say can protect your family and home from a kitchen fire:
Don’t leave cooking unattended. If you leave the room, turn off the stove.
If you are baking, roasting or simmering food use a timer to remind you of it.
For a fire in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed and wait for the fire to go out. If it doesn’t, get out and call the fire department immediately.
If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother it by carefully sliding the lid over the pan, turn off the burner and wait for it to cool. Never pour water on a grease fire.
Keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach and in the kitchen. Know how to use it and keep it inspected and maintained.
Keep areas next to the stove clean from combustible items and flammable liquids.
Finally, it’s a good idea for families to develop and practice a home evacuation plan. That includes:
Developing a plan by identifying the two best escape routes from each room. Make sure each route is unobstructed. Then review the plan with the whole family.
Knowing how to escape. First, feel the door with the back of your hand. A hot door means a fire is on the other side and you should choose an alternate escape route.
Choosing a safe meeting place. Pick a tree or other landmark that is a safe distance from the house. All members of the family should come to this place once they get out.
It’s important for families to practice the escape plan at least two times a year. Practicing will make the response to a fire become second nature.
For more information on home fire safety, visit www.tn.gov/fire/.