Fire Prevention

The majority of fire deaths and injuries occur in the home. Is your home fire safe?

Those most likely to die in home fires are children under 5 years old and adults over the age of 65. The United States and Canada have the highest fire death rates of any industrialized country.

Why is that the case? Our buildings are built to high standards through building codes and our fire departments are among the best in the world. The problem is people and their lack of awareness about the importance of making fire safety a part of their everyday lives.

Is your family fire safe?

Nearly all home fires are preventable. Each one of us can share the responsibility of keeping fires from starting. The Fire Department encourages you to review the fire safety checklist we have provided to see how fire safe their home is. Each item that you cannot check off is an opportunity for you to see that your home is more fire safe.


Home Fire Safety

Every Family Needs to Know

Every 15 seconds a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Most fires don't happen in homes, but most fire deaths and injuries do. The major causes of fatal home fires are misplaced smoking materials, heating equipment, arson, and children playing with matches or lighters.

No one wants to think about having a fire at home. But thinking about it and being ready for it can and does save lives.

Being Ready is the Key

There are three things you can do to protect your family. They may be simple, but they are very important. Do them now, waiting until tomorrow may be too late!

1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including bedrooms.
2. Test them each month to see that they are working.
3. Plan and practice home fire drills.

It doesn't matter if your home is big or small, new or old; all homes need smoke alarms that work. Put them near every bedroom. If your home has more than one level, put them on every level. They will wake you up and give you time to get out safely if there is a fire. You can't hear smoke! You can't smell it when you sleep! Smoke alarms make a very loud sound when smoke gets near them and will wake you and give you time to get out if there is a fire.

Plan and Practice Your Escape

When a fire starts, it can grow and spread very fast. The people inside have only a few short minutes to get out safely. There is no time to stop for anything. The most important thing is that you get out safely!

Make a fire escape plan for your home and practice it!

Home Fire Sprinklers Save Lives

If you are moving into an apartment, choose a building with fire sprinklers installed. If you are building or remodeling your home have sprinklers installed if you can. There are decorative or hidden sprinkler heads for residential use. You say it costs too much. The cost is far less than the alternative, a fire left to spread on its own. A common misconception is that when the sprinklers go off that all sprinklers are activated. This is not true, only the sprinkler heads directly over the fire area are activated. Sprinklers put water on the fire when it starts, keeping it small until firefighters arrive. This gives you more time to escape as well as saving your property.


Fire Escape Planning

How long do you have to escape from a fire in your home?

When people were asked this question in a recent survey, there were some very surprising answers given. Almost 60% guessed they had two minutes or more, 24% actually thought they would have more than 10 minutes to escape from a fire in their home! Actually, the truth is, you may have much less time than these people think to escape a home fire.

A typical living room fire can threaten an entire home in just a few minutes, producing life threatening conditions in upstairs bedrooms less than two minutes after their smoke alarm sounds. Your family needs to know how to get out of a burning home at the first sign of a fire.

Don't wait, plan your escape today!

Draw out a simple floor plan of your home on a sheet of paper, being careful to mark where each doorway is and where the windows are in each room.

Mark two ways out of every room in your home. Every member ofEyour household should take part in the planning. Pick out a meeting place outside. Tell everyone to meet there after they have escaped. That way you will know when everyone has gotten out. You will then know who to advise the Fire Department to look for because they are still inside. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you go back in to look for anyone. - Practice it!

Plans are a great thing to have, but no one knows if they really work if you don' t practice them. You can have practice fire drills in your home. Getting out of your home sounds easy, but your home will look entirely different if it is full of smoke! Children in particular need to practice what to do. Have someone press the test button on the smoke alarm to begin the fire drill. Practice being in bed asleep, or in the kitchen eating a meal, or even sitting in the living room watching TV.

Remember that a fire drill is NOT a race. Get out quickly but carefully. You may injure yourself simply by being careless while trying to get out in a smoke filled home.

Make time to plan and practice your family's escape plan today!


Seasonal Fire Saftety Tips

Carbon Monoxide — The Silent Killer

The winter months are on the way. As the mercury begins to dip, some families, struggling to pay their heating bills, will turn on the kitchen stove burners and the oven in an effort to take the chill off of their home. What these families don’t realize is how dangerous this practice can be. A gas oven or range top should never be used for heating. A fire could start and poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) fumes could fill the home. Any fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, space or portable heaters), generators and chimneys can produce carbon monoxide.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there is an increased risk of dying in a home fire during the winter season. December, January and February are generally the deadliest months for fire.

Also, hundreds of people die each year from unintentional CO poisoning. Fire departments responded to an estimated 61,000 CO incidents in 2005, a 9% increase from 2004. (This excludes incidents where a fire was present.) Close to 90% of CO incidents occur in the home.

Often called a silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane, burn incompletely.

CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches.

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, but infants, pregnant women and people with physical conditions that limit their ability to use oxygen, such as emphysema, asthma or heart disease, can be more severely affected by low concentrations of CO than healthy adults. High levels of CO can be fatal for anyone, causing death within minutes.

The goal of the Haw River Fire Department is to reduce the number of carbon monoxide incidents and discourage anyone from using the range or oven to heat their home. Install CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO. Have your heating equipment inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.

CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms.
Test CO alarms at least once a month.
If your CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location and call for help. Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel say it is okay.
If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries or other trouble indicators.

The Haw River Fire Department wants everyone to be warm and safe this winter. Make sure your home has carbon monoxide alarms.


Heating Safety

It’s a cold winter night. You decide to use a space heater, or perhaps light a fire in the fireplace, to save on the heating bill. Comfortable from its warmth as bedtime approaches you think, “What harm could it cause to leave it on overnight?”

Think again. While these heating devices may help you feel cozy and warm, they can become extremely dangerous if not used properly. Home heating equipment was involved in an estimated 62,000 home fires in 2005, according to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The cost of these fires is more than just property damage. The cost includes roughly 700 lives and roughly 1,500 injuries.

Home heating fires are largely preventable when you know the rules. Haw River Fire Department’s goal is to reduce the number of home-heating fires in our community. But we need your help. We are urging everyone to use extra caution this winter when heating your home.

The majority of heating fire deaths is caused by space heaters! Most heating fires are caused by creosote build-up in the chimney.

  • To help keep our community safe and warm this season, Haw River Fire Departmentrecommends that you follow these guidelines:
  • Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked, frayed or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
  • Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home — when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • For fuel assistance, contact the National Fuel Funds Network at 1-202-824-0660.

With simple precautions, help us meet our goal of decreasing home-heating fires this winter


Safety Tips for Seniors

Americans over the age of 65 have a fire death rate nearly twice the national average. For those over 75, this jumps to three times the national average. Whether living independently or in a care facility, there are steps seniors can take to remain safe from a fire.

Be Kitchen Wise
Don't leave the kitchen while you are cooking. If you have to leave the kitchen to answer the door or talk on the telephone, set a timer or take a spoon with you to remind you that you are cooking. NEVER leave grease or oil heating on the stove top unattended for any reason. NEVER use water on a grease fire; use a lid or wet towel to smother the fire. Always keep pot handles turned inward on the stove top so they can't be knocked off or spilled easily. Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking. It is never safe to use your stove as a heating device. If you have an oven fire, turn off the oven and leave the door closed.

Give Space Heaters Space
Always keep at least three feet between portable heaters and anything that can burn. This includes drapery, furniture, papers, blankets, pets, and even YOU. Be extremely cautious when using kerosene heaters. Never use any other fuel in them other than kerosene and never refill when hot. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep. These same rules apply to burning candles in your home. Also never run extension cords under furniture or rugs.

Aviod Smoking Indoors
If you must smoke indoors, use large, deep ash trays. Never smoke while drowsy or in bed. It is very dangerous to fall asleep with a lit cigarette in your hand.

Plan Your Escape
It is a good idea to keep a pair of slippers, eyeglasses, and a flashlight by your bed at night. This way, if your smoke alarm goes off at night, you will be prepared to get out of your home quickly. When you first hear your smoke alarm, every second counts for your escape; and you don't want to waste time looking for these items. Make a plan that includes two ways out of every room in your home to get away from the fire. Remember that fire grows very quickly!

Smoke Alarms
Nearly 75 percent of the 1,300 senior citizens who die nationwide in fires each year do not have working smoke alarms in their homes. Smoke alarms are designed to wake you up if a fire starts in your home at night. The smell of smoke or the heat of the fire will not wake you up! In fact, smoke will actually make you drowsy and you will eventually lose conciousness. Only a few breaths of the toxic smoke are life threatening and by the time heat from the fire would wake you, your only way of escape is probably already gone! Install smoke alarms near every bedroom and on every floor. Be sure to change the batteries twice a year.

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