According to information from the American Red Cross and the National Fire Prevention Association, fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined and only 26 percent of households have a home fire escape plan.

This week has been Fire Prevention Week and the Red Cross and NFPA are urging the public to take advantage of the many free resources available to develop a home fire escape plan and take steps toward fire prevention and safety.

Billie Cathey, executive director of the Southeast Oklahoma Chapter of the American Red Cross, offers the following tips on fire safety.

• Keep all sources of fuel (paper, clothing, bedding and carpets or rugs) at least three feet away from all heat sources when cooking, or using alternative heating like a space heater.

• Unless a space heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp or wet areas. Always check the plug-in to make sure the plug fits snugly into the outlet. When unplugging a space heater, be sure to pull the plug straight out of the socket. Heaters should also be placed on a level and flat surface. Extension cords should not be used unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord, it must be marked “12-guage” or “14-guage.” Always put the cord on top of rugs or floors. Don’t place anything on top of the cord.

• Provide constant adult supervision during cooking or in rooms with lit candles or fires. Do not leave burning candles unattended.

• Keep matches and lighters away and out of reach of children.

• Smoke alarms can help save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home. Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries when necessary — replacing all batteries at least once a year.

• Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home.

• Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floors.

• Select a location outside your home where everyone would meet after evacuating.

• Practice your plan, especially with children, older adults, people with disabilities and pets, at least twice a year and revise as necessary.

• A fire escape plan needs to include at least two escape routes for every room in the home and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance.

• Once you are out, stay out. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.

• If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke to your exit. If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If the door is warm, use your second way out.

• If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a brightly colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.

Call the Red Cross at 423-0481 for more information.

Trending Video

Recommended for you