Fire Safety Basics
I thought it would be appropriate to repost this blog entry from last year since I'm currently having my fire extinguishers serviced. Take a moment to review the basics because they're pertinent for everyone and they just might save a life in the future.
Are you and your family prepared in case there is a fire in your home? Have you checked to see if your smoke alarms are working properly & do you have them on every floor if you have more than one story? What about fire extinguishers: do you have any & have you checked to see if they're properly charged? What's more, does your household have a fire escape plan in case there is a mishap? These are all questions you should be able to answer immediately without hesitation. Fire safety is something everyone needs to consider.
A recent incident at my home prompted me to remind all of you about the importance of fire safety. As a result of some carelessness on my part, a small amount of oil began burning on the floor of my oven as I was roasting something. Smoke billowed from every nook in our range, but luckily nothing serious became of it. After getting over the embarrassment & anger at myself, I thought of the lessons to be learned from this. Had we stepped out of the house, would the fire alarms have sounded? In our case, yes. If a fire had ensued outside of the range, would we have been prepared to deal with it? Again, we would have.
Fires within the home can come from a number of sources. From dryers that aren't properly cleaned, to grease fires in the kitchen, or heating & electrical systems that fail; home fires can go from something minor to something catastrophic in a matter of minutes. Smoke alarms are your first line of defense against potential fires. Newer homes have hardwired systems that are always on (batteries are inserted to provide backup power in case of a blackout) and if you have a home alarm system, that too will be hardwired to alert the alarm company of any potential problems. If you only have battery operated ones, check them monthly & replace the batteries twice a year (any "chirping" coming from a smoke alarm means that your battery power is running low). A good way to remember this is by replacing the batteries whenever we go from daylight savings time to standard & vice versa. Your fire extinguishers also need to be monitored & properly pressurized at all times. This is what we do at my house.
A properly charged fire extinguisher should have its gauge in the green zone. If it falls below, it must be recharged.
We have a fire extinguisher company that services these devices once a year. Check your local yellow pages. You can also inquire from your fire department whether or not they can provide this service. The tags with the marked dates are always left on as reminders.
NOTE: After speaking with the company we employ, they informed me that many fire departments will no longer provide servicing fire extinguishers because of liability issues. They also stated that if a fire department does offer to check & service them, be aware that more than likely they will outsource this service with a private company and charge you accordingly.
Instructions on how to use this device. With so many types of extinguishers on the market to choose from, it's good to know what they are.
- Class A: used for regular combustible materials such as paper, wood, plastic & cardboard.
- Class B: used for combustible & flammable liquids such as oils, grease, kerosene & gasoline.
- Class C: used for electrical equipment such as appliances, outlets, circuit breakers & wiring. NEVER use water to put these types of fires out.
- Class D: used for chemical laboratories with combustible materials such as potassium, sodium, magnesium & titanium.
- Class K: used for oils & fats found in commercial kitchens.
An ABC class rating is good for the home. We have one in our basement, one in the back hall of the first floor, one in our kitchen, one in the upstairs hallway, one in our master bedroom closet (pictured above) and one in the attic. Give your extinguishers a good shake once a month to keep them from solidifying.
Extinguisher Use Reminder: P.A.S.S.
- Pull the pin
- Aim at the base of the flames
- Squeeze the trigger
- Sweep back and forth.
These are hardwired to our alarm system. The one above is in the center hall which abuts the living room, dining room & kitchen.
A view from the mudroom in the back hall shows you another smoke alarm. My washer & dryer are located in the mudroom area; I highly recommend having one near these types of appliances.
From the mudroom I have access to the upstairs and the basement through these doors. There is an alarm in the basement which houses the heating unit & water heater.
The upstairs hallway also has two alarms. One is near the front bedrooms & the other is by the rear bedrooms and annex.
Note: It's a good idea to dust the smoke alarms on a weekly basis. Dust or cobwebs can give a false reading and set off the alarm, so be diligent about this.
Further Suggestions: you don't want to throw water on a fire in the kitchen, especially a grease fire-- it can actually make it explode into something bigger. Have some baking soda on hand to smother it with.
Take a class in fire safety and emergency preparedness if possible.
Once a fire extinguisher has been used, even if you're only spraying a small fire with a quick burst, you must have the extinguisher reserviced & recharged. DO NOT think you can reuse that extinguisher without having it recharged. The unit will not work properly!
I hope I've motivated you to check your homes for adequate fire safety. One shouldn't think of these things as extras or unimportant items, but rather as basic necessities for your home, your family & pets. Everyone should also have a fire escape & safety plan in case anything does happen. If you're having weekend guests or are perhaps thinking of having someone housesit for you, make sure you leave these instructions, along with contact phone numbers. From my home to yours, I want everyone to have a comfortable and safe dwelling year round.