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Enhance Your Home Fire Safety

Top 10 tips to be fire safe:

    1. If a fire breaks out, GET OUT and STAY OUT. Call 911
    2. Make sure you have enough smoke alarms and that they work:
      • One on each floor, including basement
      • One in each bedroom
      • Check weekly; install fresh batteries every 6 months
      • Do not remove batteries to stop false alarms-fan smoke away instead
    3. Know two ways out, especially from bedrooms
    4. Don't leave cooking or candles unattended
    5. Make sure cigarettes are extinguished. Don't smoke in bed
    6. Keep space heaters 3 feet away from flammable items
    7. Don't overload electrical circuits
    8. Keep flammable materials at least 3 feet away from water heaters, furnaces and other sources of flames (do not store items in furnace/water heater closets)
    9. Don't use a grill on a porch or within 10 feet of a building
    10. Don't store gasoline, lighter fluid, etc. inside your house or apartment

Fire Safety Training Event

Have you ever considered what you would do in the event of an electrical fire, cooking fire, or if a fire blocked your exit?  Your reactions during a fire can save you from serious injury and death.

The Columbus Division of Fire provides free fire safety and prevention training to students each semester.  Students can experience actual fire hazards and learn life-saving safety practices through the Fire Prevention Bureau’s Safe House Program.  The Safe House Program combines fire scenarios and physical interaction to reinforce critical life-safety tips.

The next Fire Safety Training Event is spring 2015 at the Ohio Union during the Buckeye Block Watch Bash.  Participation is free and highly encouraged.

Smoke Alarms in Your Home

A properly maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  A smoke alarm that does not work, either because of age or because it has a dead battery or missing battery, is the same as having no smoke alarm at all.

Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, a working smoke alarm reduces the risk of fire death by 50%.

Smoke Alarm Placement

Ohio law requires your landlord to provide a working smoke alarm on each level of your home, including the basement.  If one of your floors does not have a smoke alarm, or if one of your smoke alarms does not work, contact your landlord immediately. 

Generally, alarms should be placed in the center of a ceiling or, if on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.

For maximum warning, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.

In addition to the smoke alarms provided by your landlord, you can purchase additional alarms online or at your local hardware store.

Test Your Smoke Alarm Monthly

When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead.  Almost one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures are due to dead batteries.  A smoke alarm is a critical early warning device; so test your smoke alarm monthly, your safety and the safety of others could depend on it.

Testing your alarm is the only way to know if it is functioning. 

  1. Press and hold the test button
  2. Wait for smoke alarm to beep

If the smoke alarm does not beep, and you have installed new batteries, replace the smoke alarm.

Signs you need a new smoke alarm or battery:

  1. The smoke alarm makes short beeps regularly, or
  2. The smoke alarm is more than 10 years old and has exceeded its lifespan.

You may need to change the location of the smoke alarm if the alarm often gives false (nuisance) alarms (from cooking or steam from showers, for example).

No Combustible Materials Stored Indoors or Near Heating Appliances

Your furnace and water heater are heat sources that can cause a fire by igniting nearby flammable or combustible materials.

If your furnace and water heater are in your basement, keep flammable materials at least 3 feet away.

If your furnace and water heater are in a closet, keep the entire closet clear of any items.  Do not use your furnace and water heater closet as storage; it is a serious fire hazard.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm on Each Floor

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, combustible, and deadly.  A carbon monoxide detector is just as important as a smoke alarm because it provides an early warning that can prevent serious injury or death.

Carbon monoxide is the by-product of fuel combustion.  If you have a gas appliance, such as a stove, furnace, or water heater, you are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Over time, carbon monoxide can build up and cause loss of consciousness and even death.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure your landlord has a qualified technician maintain the heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or fuel burning appliance each year.  Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

You also can reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by installing and maintaining carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of dangerous carbon monoxide levels.

Install carbon monoxide alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home.

You can purchase a plug-in carbon monoxide detector online or at your local hardware store.

If you already have a carbon monoxide detector, test it monthly by pushing the test button, change the batteries twice a year, and replace it if it is more than seven years old.

Fire Extinguisher on Each Floor

A fire extinguisher can confine and possibly put out a small fire, resulting in saved lives and property.

If you purchase a fire extinguisher, select an “ABC” extinguisher.  An ABC fire extinguisher is a multi-purpose fire extinguisher that can be used on:

  • A: Ordinary combustible materials, such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper, and many plastics
  • B: Flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, and oil-based paints
  • C: Electrical appliances

When to use a Fire Extinguisher

Use a fire extinguisher only if:

  • All residents have evacuated the building and the fire department has been called
  • The room is not filled with smoke
  • You have an unblocked exit to escape
  • The fire is confined to a small area and is not growing
  • You feel comfortable using the fire extinguisher

How to use a Fire Extinguisher

Remember the word “PASS” when you use a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointed toward the fire
  • Aim low and point the nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Emergency Escape Ladders

Your ability to escape a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.

You and everyone else you live with should have an escape plan in the event of a fire.  If a fire starts, you only have a few minutes to escape before poisonous smoke and flames engulf your home.  Quick escape requires a plan. 

Create an escape plan that includes the following:

  • Two exits for every room
  • An outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped.

If your home has two floors, everyone in an upstairs bedroom must be able to escape from second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route if your primary exit is blocked by fire.

To learn more about safely escaping a home fire, participate in the Fire Safety Training Event on campus.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is financial protection that can cover property loss in the event of theft, vandalism, accidental damage, and damage caused as a result of fire, flood, or other disasters. Renters insurance is a low cost insurance option that can cover your personal belongings year round.