Home Fire Safety Questionnaire
You can eliminate many hazards in and around your home. Go through this list with your whole family.
If you answer “NO” to at least one of these questions, then the time for action is NOW.
- Do you have defensible space? Have you removed all combustible rubbish, leaves, and debris from your yard? Have you removed all waste, debris, and litter from your garage?
- If you store paint, varnish, etc., in your garage, are the containers tightly closed?
- Is there an approved safety can for the storing of gasoline for the lawn mowers, snow blowers, and snowmobiles, etc.?
- Do you keep your basement, storerooms, and attic free from rubbish, oily rags, old papers, mattresses, and broken furniture?
- Is there a sufficient number of metal cans with lids for rubbish and combustible debris?
- Are stoves, broilers, and other cooking equipment kept clean and free of grease?
- Are curtains near stoves arranged to prevent their blowing over the burners or flames?
- Are members of the family forbidden to start fires in stoves or fireplaces with kerosene or other flammable liquids?
- Do you always see that your portable space heater is placed well away from curtains, drapes, furniture, etc.?
- Are all of your electrical appliances including irons, mixers, heaters, lamps, fans, radios, television sets, and other devices “UL” listed?
- Do all rooms have an adequate number of outlets to take care of electrical appliances?
- Have you done away with all multiple attachment plugs?
- Are all flexible electrical extension and lamp cords in your home in the open? (None placed under rugs, over hooks, through partitions or door openings)
- Do you keep matches in a metal container away from heat and away from children?
- Do you extinguish all matches, cigarettes, and cigar butts carefully before disposing of them?
- Do you see to it that there are plenty of noncombustible ash trays in all rooms throughout the house?
- Are all members of the family instructed not to smoke in bed?
- Do you have a home escape plan in case of a fire?
- Do you hold home fire drills at least once a month?
- When you employ babysitters, do you instruct them what to do in case of a fire?
- Did your entire family take part in completing this checklist?
- Do you at least have a smoke detector on every level of your home, and within 15 feet of your bedrooms?
Space Heater Safety Tips
While space heaters are legal and widely used as an alternative heat source, they CAN pose certain hazards. If you have a space heater, or are considering the purchase of a space heater, the following information is vital to your safety.
- Always make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
- Never use fuel burning appliances without proper ventilation. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal, or propane, for example) produces deadly fumes.
- Be sure your space heater is in good working condition. All space heaters need frequent checkups and cleaning. A dirty or neglected heater is a critical fire hazard.
- Use only the proper fuel for each heater. Never introduce a fuel into a heating unit not designed for that unit.
- Never quicken a fire with kerosene or gasoline.
- Store kerosene, gasoline or other flammable liquids outside the home at all times.
- Use an approved safety can for the storing of flammable liquids.
- Maintain adequate clearance in all directions around space heaters: 3 feet is the minimum – from walls and combustibles, such as clothes, curtains, beds or other furniture.
- Never leave children unsupervised in a room with a space heater.
- Keep young children away from space heaters, particularly when they are wearing nightgowns which can be drawn into the heater by a draft and ignited.
- If you use an electric heater, be sure your house wiring is adequate. Avoid overloading the circuit. Avoid using extension cords. Use an approved power strip with a built-in circuit breaker.
- Never cover a heater’s cord with carpeting or furniture. This could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.
- Avoid using electric space heaters in the bathroom. Never touch an electric heater when you are wet.
- When refueling an oil unit, don’t overfill it. If cold fuel is used, it will expand as it warms up inside your home and may cause burner-flooding; this could cause flare-ups. Don’t fill your heater while it is burning.
- Turn off your heater or turn it on low before going to bed.
- When using a fuel burning heater in the bedroom, open the window. Ventilation prevents suffocation that can be caused by a heater consuming oxygen.
- Use ONLY safety listed equipment. If you choose an oil heater, look for the UL label; a gas appliance, the AGA or UL label; or an electric heater, the UL label.
PROPANE FUELED SPACE HEATERS ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
When temperatures outside are low, a crackling fire in the fireplace is a cozy and cheery way to keep warm. But these fires, if not carefully tended, could cause tragedy. To use them safely, follow these guidelines:
- Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire.
- Keep a metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent flying embers from starting a fire.
- Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite soot in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Never burn charcoal in your fireplace, in a charcoal broiler or in a hibachi unit inside your home. Burning charcoal gives off deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Be sure no flammable materials hang down from or decorate your mantel. A spark from your fireplace fire could ignite these materials.
- When you go to bed, be sure your fireplace fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can help hot ashes build up heat to the point where a fire could flare up and ignite the room while you are asleep.
- If your fireplace hasn’t been used for some time, have it and the chimney checked before using.
- Follow the directions on the package if you use human-made logs. Never break a human-made log apart to quicken the fire.
It’s important that you have your furnace checked out and cleaned regularly, and that it be in good working condition. Furnace fire safety tips need to be observed year around.
- Be sure all furnace automatic controls and emergency shutoffs are in good condition.
- Leave furnace work to experts. Don’t attempt repairs unless you are qualified.
- Have the repair person check the wall and ceiling near the furnace and flue. If they are hot, additional insulation or clearance may be needed.
- Check the flue pipes. Are they well supported? Free of holes and clean?
- Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
- Keep trash and combustible storage away from the heating system.
- Don’t store hot ashes in the home; take them outside immediately.
Don’t try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flames. Use hot water or a UL labeled device for thawing; otherwise a fire could be the result.
Is There a Fire Hydrant Outside of Your Home?
If there should be a fire, firefighters need to be able to hook their hose up to that hydrant. Shovel the snow away from the hydrant. It may save your home or that of your neighbors.
Creating An Escape Plan
Nobody expects a fire. But it’s very important to have an Escape Plan, just in case there is one. Fire can happen anywhere: in the home, apartment or place of business. Escape Plans will differ for each type of building so it’s up to you to plan the proper escape from your particular building.There’s no time for planning during a Fire Emergency. Sit down with your family today and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.
Draw a floor-plan of your home, marking two ways out (including windows) of every room – especially sleeping areas. Discuss the escape routes with every member of your household. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under smoke, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor.
Agree on a meeting place outside your home where every member of the household will gather after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside the building.
Practice your plan with your family once a month.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows two routes to escape from bedrooms.
- Buy a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
- Keep the fire department’s number by the phone.
- Have a flashlight by your bed to help you see and a whistle to alert your family.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house with your eyes closed.
- Never open doors that are hot to the touch.
- Teach your family to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
- Designate a meeting place outside and take attendance.
- Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department.
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the batteries every month and change them at least once a year.
In Case of Fire
Leave the building immediately. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under smoke, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor. Doors need to be tested before opening. Reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the crack between the door with the back of your hand. If the door is warm find another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution.Go directly to your meeting place, and take a head count.
Call 911 from a neighbors phone, a portable phone, or an alarm box. (Every member of your household should know how to call 911.
If you become trapped in the building, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke. wait at a window and signal for help with a light colored cloth (sheet), or flashlight. If there is a phone in the room, use it to call 911 and tell them exactly where you are. Open a window about 8 inches at the top to let out the heat and smoke. Open the window about 8 inches at the bottom to breathe. Do not break out the window, as you may need to close it.
Contact Georgetown Fire Department at 333-4111 if you have any questions or require assistance in planning your home or work Escape Plan.