About 40 years ago, people had an average of 17 minutes to escape a burning home after the activation of a smoke alarm, but now with synthetic furnishings and open floor plans, that escape time is down to three minutes or less.

Help protect your family by implementing these 11 tips.

  1. Place working smoke alarms in all bedrooms and near kitchens and living rooms and on all levels of a house, as these reduce the risk of death in house fires by 50 percent. Interconnected smoke alarms are best because when one sounds, they all sound. Check batteries regularly, and replace the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time. Also, always replace the batteries when you move into a new house.
  2. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. If you move into a new home, inspect the existing smoke alarms – look for the “replace by” or “manufactured on” date on the back of the device, and replace them if you don’t know the alarm’s age. Add additional alarms as necessary.
  3. Test the devices at least once a month. A unit should immediately be replaced if it doesn’t work properly.
  4. Close bedroom doors at night. Researched clearly show that closed doors dramatically decrease heat and carbon monoxide levels, which provide trapped occupants more time for help to arrive. Closing your doors is especially important at night when people are vulnerable and disoriented, with little time to react. It’s such a simple thing to do, and the result can be life versus death.”

Also, close the doors behind you as you leave a burning house to slow the fire.

  1. Plan an escape from the house from every room.
  2. Designate a meeting spot outside of your home, mark it on your fire safety plan and practice meeting there during drills. Once outside a burning house, stay outside. 
  3. Work with kids to teach them to escape on their ownin case you can’t help them.
  4. Ensure your house number is clearly markedso the fire department can find it in case of a home fire.
  5. Be careful in the kitchen; unattended cooking is the leading factor contributing to home fires. More than half of all cooking fire injuries occurred when people tried to fight the fire themselves, so know what to do: Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Never use water. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If a fire gets out of control, escape the house and then call the firefighters.
  6. Be careful with heating devices. Heating equipment was involved in one of every five home fire deaths. Never put anything that can burn near heaters, especially space heaters.
  7. If you’re building a new home, include a fire sprinkler system, as these can reduce the risk of dying from home fires by 80 percent and the risk of property loss by 70 percent.

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