At any unsuspecting moment, a fire can rip through your home, displacing you and your loved ones. There is no better time than now to be reminded of the importance of fire safety and prevention. Familiarize your family with escape routes and the locations of fire safety equipment around the apartment. Be sure to get kids involved with the fire prevention plan, too. Here are some fire prevention tips to consider that will help keep your family and home safe:
Keep flammables in cool, dry places and out of reach
You may not realize it, but numerous household items are extremely flammable. Items such as nail polish, hairspray, bathroom cleaners and hand sanitizer are combustible and should be kept in a cool, dry place away from a heat source. Because these items are very toxic if ingested, these items should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
Keep candles up high
We all have our favorite seasonal scents and enjoy the aroma around the apartment. If you do burn a candle, be sure to keep it on a high shelf where kids and pets can’t get to it. Candles should also be placed away from anything that could catch fire, such as flammable liquids and window treatments. Set a timer on your watch or phone to remind you to blow out the candles.
Keep area around stove and oven clear of clutter
When cooking or baking, avoid placing towels, oven mitts, and paper or plastic products around the oven and stovetop area.
Keep up with smoke detector maintenance
Smoke detectors save lives, so regular upkeep is crucial. Test the smoke detector monthly and replace batteries at least twice a year. Familiarize your family with the sounds of a smoke alarm/detector in case of an emergency.
Many apartment communities have annual smoke detector tests. If you suspect yours is faulty or needs new batteries, be sure to call maintenance right away.
Know location of fire extinguisher
It's important to know where the fire extinguisher is located in your apartment and how to replace it if needed. Ask the apartment management for a replacement extinguisher if you have used it, nozzle is broken or loose, locking pin is missing, handle is unstable or the extinguisher is expired. An extinguisher is typically located under the kitchen sink or in the pantry.
A proper fire extinguisher should have an inspection tag. If it doesn't, an inspection may be long overdue and you should call the maintenance right away. Keeping a fire extinguisher in the garage, by a furnace or fireplace, and kitchen can help prevent fires within the home.
Report electrical issues
If you know of any electrical issues in the apartment, call maintenance or a certified electrician ASAP to inspect. A light that only flickers when the microwave is on is a sign of problems in the wiring. It’s always a good idea to have the wires inspected in the apartment before you move in. Wires that are worn down or exposed should be replaced immediately by a professional.
Remind yourself of miscellaneous causes
Be sure to unplug small appliances, such as a curling wand, laptop, space heater, etc., that could spark or be considered a heat source. Fireplaces should have an inspection and chimney sweep at least once a year.
Now that we have reviewed fire safety and prevention tips, check out this list of to-dos in case of an emergency:
Keep emergency numbers in plain sight
It’s a good idea to keep emergency contact numbers in a place where everyone can find them, such as the fridge. Numbers to consider adding to an emergency contact list include fire and police department (emergency and non-emergency), water company, gas company (include emergency gas leak number), power company, poison control, veterinarian, and doctor. If you need to make an emergency call, be sure to give the operator your name, address, building and apartment number, your immediate location and if you have pets in the apartment.
Plan an escape route
Walk through your home with the whole family and show them all possible exits to use in case of an emergency. After you take them throughout the apartment, have the kids teach you the plan so they can commit the emergency route to memory. Draw the floor plan and mark the escape routes and location of smoke detectors in the home. Plan for a practice run at least once a month.
Create an outside meetup place
Pick a location as a family where you all will meet if an emergency arises. This can be a mailbox, the leasing office, stop sign or playground. The location should be a safe distance away from the apartment or dwelling.
Assign family roles to assist others
Assign those capable of assisting infants, the elderly, small kids, the disabled or pets as leaders when exiting the apartment during an emergency. Practice this role during monthly drills. Be sure to assign a backup just in case the original family member is not home during the emergency. Keep an emergency supply of diapers, medications, food, etc. nearby.
Never use an elevator during a fire
Always take the stairs if there is a fire. If the staircase is filled with smoke and you cannot exit, seal yourself in a room with a window. If you can exit safely, stay low and move under the smoke.
Barricade yourself if you can’t get out safely
Pick a room with a window and open it, sealing the door behind you. Tuck towels or bed sheets under the crack in the doorway to keep smoke from seeping in. Call fire department and disclose your exact room location.
Plan for pets in emergency
1.Place a fire rescue sticker on front door or window. Disclose pet type, breed, color, etc.
2. Prepare an emergency kit with food, medications, paperwork and a photo.
3. Know your pet’s usual hiding spot when they’re scared.