4 ways to prevent home fires and keep your family safe

(BPT) – Hundreds of thousands of residential building fires happen each year in America, according to the U.S. Fire Administration — yet only 26% of families have a home fire escape plan developed and practiced[1]. Kids practice up to 156 fire drills during their K-12 experience[2], but they are often less knowledgeable about what to do when a smoke alarm goes off at home.

Learning the basics of fire safety is the first and most important step in fighting the dangers of fire. Understanding the best ways to protect your home and family should always be at the top of your to-do list. To help you prepare, the fire safety experts at Kidde, a trusted leader in fire safety for more than 100 years, provide the following tips and advice:

1. Make sure you have working smoke alarms throughout the home

A working smoke alarm can double your family’s chances of safely escaping from a house fire[3]. In fact, three out of five home fire deaths happen in homes without properly working smoke alarms[4]. Like any home appliance, a smoke alarm should be carefully maintained. To do this:

  • Place a working smoke alarm or detector on every level of your home, in hallways, and both inside and outside every sleeping area.
  • Use interconnected alarms to make sure you hear an alarm from any room in your home.
  • Test alarms weekly by simply pressing the test button on its face.
  • Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.

2. Have fire extinguishers within reach

Place extinguishers on every level of your home, but especially near rooms where fires are more likely to start, including the kitchen, living room and laundry room. Choose multipurpose extinguishers that are large enough to put out a small fire, but not too heavy to handle, and ensure everyone in your family knows how to use it properly. Remember the P.A.S.S. method: PULL the pin, AIM at the base of the fire, SQUEEZE the handle, and SWEEP side to side.

3. Discuss fire safety with your family

Kidde is on a mission to help families everywhere make fire safety a priority and keep children safe at home. To do this, it’s imperative children know that the most important thing to do when they hear a smoke alarm is to leave the house or building immediately. Kidde created the Cause for Alarm jingle – Beeps that Last, Get Out Fast – to help kids remember what to do in the event of a fire. Fire safety should not be out of sight, out of mind, but rather an integral part of your daily family routine. Listen to the educational sing-a-long song online.

There are other fire safety resources that can help your family better prepare in the event of a home fire. Visit causeforalarm.org for a fire safety checklist to ensure your home is as safe as possible when it comes to kitchen appliances, electronics, heating, candles and other factors that can lead to fires.

4. Create a home fire escape plan

Once a house fire starts, you only have two minutes or less to act and escape safely. When escape planning, remember:

  • Draw a map of your home, mark two ways out of every room and pick a safe meeting spot away from your home.
  • Practice two times per year and at two different times of the day — daytime and nighttime.
  • Designate who will assist children and those with mobility or health issues.
  • Have escape ladders in upstairs rooms.
  • Get outside fast and once you are outside, stay outside. Make sure everyone in your home knows how to dial 911 or your local emergency number.

For additional resources, visit causeforalarm.org.