Fire Safety at Home

According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal two large causes of home fires in Maine are heating sources and cooking.

A few other documented causes are open flame (candle), ember or a torch and a number of fires because of an unknown or suspicious source.

Tips for a Safer Home

Here are some easy ways to help make your home safer:

  • Properly install and regularly check smoke alarms on every floor and near every sleeping area
  • Establish a fire escape plan and practice it routinely
  • Don't store highly-flammable materials (gasoline, solvents, oil-based paint, etc) in the house
  • Don't overload electric outlets or extension cores-- never use cords that are frayed or damaged
  • Dispose of oily rags properly (place them in a container of water and cover with a lid)
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher (ABC type) in an accessible location in your home, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use it; consider keeping several extinguishers in strategic places including the kitchen, the garage, the basement, and the second floor
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, and all heating appliances checked and cleaned by a professional before each heating season
  • Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children; teach children to never play with fire
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Never leave the kitchen when the stove is on
  • Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from all heat sources (furnaces, stoves, cooking ranges, space heaters, fireplaces, etc.)
  • Makes sure everyone in your house knows how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near your telephone
  • Teach children how and when to dial 911
  • Designate 2 places to meet:
    1. Right outside the house in a sudden emergency like a fire
    2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return (everyone must know address and phone number)
  • Practice and maintain your plan and question your kids every six months so they remember what to do

What to do in a Fire Emergency

Should you find yourself and your home confronted with a fire, there are certain steps that should be taken to insure safety. These tactics vary according to the size and type of the fire. Knowing what to do during a fire can eliminate the panic and save your life.

  • If the fire is small and you have a fire extinguisher nearby, you may choose to attempt to put the fire out yourself. If the fire is not electircal or chemical in nature, water can also be used to extinguish it. Do not try to put out a fire that is getting out of control. If you're not sure you can control it, get everyone out of the house and call 911 from a neighbor's house.
  • Smother oil and grease fires in the kitchen with baking soda or salt, or put a lid over the flame if it is burning in a pan
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster
  • Sleep with your door closed. If you wake up to the sound of a smoke detector, feel the door knob with the back of your hand before you open it If the door knob is cool, leave immediately. Be prepared to crawl - smoke and heat rise, so the air is clearer and cooler near the floor. If the door knob is hot, escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light colored sheet outside the window, alerting firefighters to your presence.
  • Have your family meet at predesignated area outside the house. That way, if any members of the family are missing, firefighters can be notified.
  • If you don't have a set plan for exiting your home in an emergency, CREATE ONE - PRACTICE IT- KNOW IT- in case you have to USE IT!
  • Plan how to take care of your pets; they are often not allowed in emergency shelters due to health regulations
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit
  • Learn about your community's warning signals; what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them

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