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Fire-Safety Tips

How to React to a Fire

Try as we might to prevent them, fires can happen in a flash. When they do break out, you need to know how to react. Here are several suggestions:
  • If you smell smoke or your smoke detectors sound, get your family out immediately. Call the fire department from a neighbor's house.

  • Never reenter a burning house for any reason. Leave fire fighting to the professionals as soon as they're on the scene.

  • Never use water on electric, oil, or grease fires. Turn off the heat immediately, and use a lid or a large piece of metal bakeware to smother the flames.

    Never use water on electric, oil, or grease fires. Turn off the heat and smother the flames with a lid.

    Turn off the heat and cover a pan that's on fire.

  • If you can't shut off the gas before fighting a gas fire, get out of the house immediately.

  • If you can't remove the fuel from a wood, paper, or fabric fire, cut off its air by smothering the fire with a coat or heavy woolen blanket. You might also cool the fire with water or a fire extinguisher.

  • Even if a fire is confined to a frying pan or wastebasket, never spend more than 30 seconds fighting the fire. Small fires can grow with frightening speed.

  • If someone's clothes are on fire, douse the flames with water or use a heavy blanket to smother the fire.

    If someone's clothes are on fire, douse them with water or smother them with a blanket.

    If someone's clothes are on fire, douse
    with water or smother with a blanket.

If you follow the suggestions we've outlined in this article, your home will be a safer place. And if the unthinkable does happen -- if a fire occurs -- at least you'll be prepared.

The Basics on Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors won't prevent a fire but they save lives by alerting you to smoke. If you don't have smoke detectors, install them now. In most jurisdictions, landlords are required to have smoke detectors in rental units.

For basic protection at minimum expense, place one smoke detector in the hallway near each separate sleeping area. Ask your city or town's fire department for advice on purchasing detectors.

And be sure to check the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year. Many people find that they remember to do this if they take care of it when daylight savings time begins in April and ends in October.

Don't mount a smoke detector in areas where the alarm can be triggered inappropriately -- such as by smoke from cooking, steam from the shower, or in the garage where combustion products from the car's engine can set it off.