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What to Do When a Fire Alarm Goes Off

Did you know that on average you have approximately 2 minutes to escape once a fire has started in your home? The size of a fire doubles every 30 seconds. Fire alarms save lives and homes. Everyone must evacuate as soon as an alarm sounds. It is very important that you and your family are prepared in advance for such an event. That way, you all know what to do in the very limited amount of time you have. Here are some tips for what to do when your fire alarm goes off and ways that you can prepare for a fire before it even begins.

How to Maintain Your Fire Alarm and Detectors

According the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 66% of all household fire deaths were results of homes with either no smoke alarms or working smoke alarms with old/missing batteries. It is very important to have a working smoke/heat detector or fire alarm in every room of your house. Having working detectors/alarms allows everyone to escape safely.

Types of alarms and detectors

Alarm(s) should be placed on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove. Change batteries two times per year and replace battery-powered alarms every 10 years.

heat detector
A heat detector goes off either when a certain temperature is met or if the temperature in a room rises at a certain rate.
smoke detector
A smoke detector goes off when it senses the presence of smoke.
fire alarm
A fire alarm is a system of devices: heat detectors and smoke detectors to sense a fire, and can activate sprinklers or alert the fire station when triggered.

How often should you test your detectors

You should always schedule to test your smoke detectors at least once per month. If you do not want to do that, make sure you at least test it several times each year.

How to test your smoke detector

Check the manufacturer's instructions for the proper method of testing your smoke detector. But, in general, most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors can be tested in the following way:

notify company
If your fire alarm or detector is wired to a monitoring system, contact your security system company to notify them of your test.
protect ears
Make sure that the person who is testing the alarm is wearing hearing protection. The alarm is very loud and if you are within a close range, it can damage your hearing.
hear alarm
Have someone go to the farthest end of the house to make sure that they can hear the alarm from there.
press test button
Press and hold the test button on the alarm (make sure all detectors' horns sound if you have an interconnected system). Repeat with ALL detectors. Never test the alarm with an open flame or heat source.
spray smoke detector
Purchase a small spray can of smoke detector test aerosol to test if the smoke detector will actually work in a fire. Spray the detector and wait for the loud noise to commence.
vacuum alarm
Use a vacuum to remove the test material to silence your alarm.

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Create a Fire Escape Plan

If a fire occurred at your home tonight would everyone know what to do? Every family should have a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice each year.

Having a fire escape plan can make it easier and faster to move everyone out of harm's way. Make sure you take these important things in consideration when you are creating your fire escape plan.

Fire Escape Plan

Things to include in a fire escape plan:

• Create a floorplan of your home with two exits designated for each room.

• Have ladders ready for when you have to escape from the window at higher floor.

• Make sure escape routes are clear of debris and doors and windows open easily. Windows with security bars or grills should have an emergency release device.

• Assign someone to lead the elderly and kids to safety.

• Plan an outside meeting place where everyone will meet once they have escaped. A good meeting place is something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox a safe distance in front of the home.

• Make sure children understand the plan and will not hide during a fire.

• Have fire extinguishers ready.

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What To Do During a Fire

We never expect our fire alarm or smoke detector to sound off. Our first instinct may be to run to the detector to shut it off.

MISTAKE! Fire is fast! Call 911 or Emergency Services from outside the home.

Once a fire starts, it can spread quickly. The size of a fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. In as little as 3 minutes, the heat from a small fire can cause everything in the room to burst into flames (called a flashover). Exit your home right away using the fire escape plan.

1. Do not open the door if you see smoke coming in from the cracks.

2. Check doors by feeling for heat with the back of your hand before opening them. If it is hot or the door knob is hot, leave the door closed and exit through the windows.

3. If you're stuck in a room, keep the smoke out by putting towels in any gaps and try to find a different way to escape.

4. Stay low to avoid breathing in smoke.

5. Try to crouch and crawl to maneuver.

6. If you are in bed when the alarm goes off, do not sit up, instead roll out of bed to avoid inhaling the dangerous fumes and smoke.

7. If time permits, grab a wet towel to cover your nose and mouth with it.

8. If you catch on fire, stop drop and roll.

9. Never hide under your bed or in a closet.

10. Get out of the house immediately and go to your rendezvous point.

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What to Do During a Fire Infographic

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