Fire Safety Tips

Install and maintain smoke alarms. Smoke alarms will warn you of a fire in time for you to escape. Install them on every level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. Test them at least once a month and replace batteries in accordance with manufacturing requirements or whenever an alarm begins to chirp, which signals the battery is low.

Sleep with bedroom doors closed. Closed doors provide protection against heat and smoke. Even a lightweight hollow-core door delays a fire and toxic smoke. Slowing the spread of fire to sleeping areas gives everyone more time to escape.

Plan and practice two ways out. Fire escape routes must not include elevators, which might take you right to the fire. Choose a meeting place outside where everyone will gather. Once you're out, stay out! At least twice a year, have the whole family practice the escape plan.

Test doors before you open them. While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution.

Crawl low under smoke. Smoke is dangerous! If you encounter smoke, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, the cleanest air will be several inches off the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest safe exit.

If you are trapped, close the doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help with light-colored cloth or a flashlight. If there's a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.

Once you're out, stay out! If a fire starts, don't wait for anything. Just get outside. Go to your family's meeting place. Then someone can call the fire department from a neighbor's phone or an alarm box. Do not go back into your home for any reason, until a grownup says it's safe.

Stop, Drop and Roll. Everyone should know this rule: If your clothes catch on fire, don't run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll over and over to smother the flames.

Space heaters need space. Keep portable and space heaters at 3 feet (1 meter) from anything that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed and keep children and pets well away from them.

Smokers need watchers. Carelessly discarded cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Never smoke in bed or when you are drowsy! Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers and put water on butts before discarding them. Before going to bed, check under and around sofa cushions for smoldering cigarettes.

Be Careful Cooking. Never leave cooking unattended. Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles and wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook. Keep the handles of your pots turned inward so the pots can't be knocked or pulled over. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, then turn off the burner. Never put foil or other metals in a microwave oven.

Matches and lighters are tools, not toys. In the hands of a child, matches and lighters are deadly. Store them up high where kids can't reach them, preferably in a locked cabinet. And teach your children from the start that matches and lighters are tools for adults, not toys for kids. If children find matches or lighters, they should tell a grown-up immediately.

Use electricity safely. If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Replace any electrical cord that is cracked or frayed. Don't overload extension cords or run them under rugs. Don't tamper with the fuse box or use fuses of an improper size.

Cool a burn. If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately.

Tips from the National Fire Protection Association and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal.

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