Fire safety materials from Vision 20/20

Vision2020   Fireiseveryonesfight

Speed and danger of smoke

1. What is smoke?

  • Smoke is a deadly mix of poison gas and burned material that is made by fire. 

2. What makes smoke so dangerous? 

  • Smoke is fast. After a smoke alarm sounds, you may have as little as 1 to 2 minutes to get out of your home safely.
  • Smoke makes it hard to breathe. It can make you sick or hurt your lungs.
  • Smoke can even kill you. 
  • Smoke is dark and hurts your eyes. It makes it hard to see.
  • Smoke is silent. It can sneak up on you, especially if you are sleeping. 

Need for smoke alarms

1. Why should I have smoke alarms in my home? 
  • Working smoke alarms warn you and your family when there is a fire. They can save your lives. 
  • Smoke alarms make a loud beep, beep, beep sound to warn you there is a fire before you see, hear, or smell it. They give you extra time to escape. 
  • Smoke alarms wake you up if there is a fire when you are sleeping so you can get out safely.
2.  What kind of smoke alarms should I have in my home?
  • There are 3 kinds of smoke alarms.  All three kinds of alarms will sound if there is a fire. They will all help you wake up if you are asleep:
    • Ionization Alarms: They work best with fast burning fires, like a pan fire.
    • Photoelectric Alarms:  They work best with slow burning fires like a cigarette dropped on a sofa, hot wires or a heater near something that can burn.
    • Dual-Sensor, Multi-Sensor and Multi-Criteria Alarms: These alarms work well for both kinds of fires.
  • Since no one can predict what type of fire might start in their home, it is best to have more than one kind of alarm. Fire experts recommend that every home and place where people sleep have both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.  Choose smoke alarms that are interconnected, so when one sounds, they all sound.
3. Where can I buy smoke alarms?
  • You can buy smoke alarms at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and department stores. Make sure all your alarms have a label from a well-known testing lab.
  • In some places, the local fire department can provide and install free smoke alarms for people who need them but cannot afford to buy them.

Installing, Testing and Replacing Smoke Alarms

1. Where should I put smoke alarms in my home?
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor or level of your home.
  • Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and inside every bedroom.
  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall because smoke rises.
Important Note:
  • Do not put smoke alarms near windows, doors, vents, ducts, or corners. The smoke may not get to the alarms.
  • Do not put smoke alarms too close to the kitchen or bathroom. Steam or smoke from cooking can set off the alarm even if there is no fire. 
2. When should I test my smoke alarms?
  • Test every smoke alarm in your home once a month. 
3. What can I do to make sure my smoke alarms are working properly?
  • Test every smoke alarm in your home each month. Push the test button.
  • Keep your smoke alarms clean. 
  • Change the battery in all smoke alarms when the battery power is getting low.  
  • Some smoke alarms need a new battery once a year.  
  • Some smoke alarms can last up to 10 years without a new battery.  When the time is up you should get a new alarm.
4. How do I test a smoke alarm?
  • Stand on a sturdy stepladder and push the test button on the alarm until you hear a loud sound – beep, beep, beep. If the alarm sounds, it is working.
  • If you are not able to test your smoke alarms safely, ask a family member or friend for help.
  • If the alarm does not make a sound, replace the battery and try again. If it still does not work, get a new alarm. 
5. How should I keep my smoke alarms clean?
  • Use a vacuum or a dry cloth to remove dust from smoke alarms every time you test them.
  • Never put anything on your smoke alarms, such as paint, decorations, or tape. If the smoke can’t get to the alarm, it will not work. 

6. How do I know if my smoke alarm needs new batteries?

  • If your smoke alarm makes a short chirping noise, the battery is losing power. Try putting in a new battery.  If your smoke alarms continues to chirp, replace it with a new alarm. 
7. How do I keep my alarm from sounding when there is no fire?
  • Install smoke alarms at least 3 feet from the bathroom door and 10 feet from a cooking appliance such as a stove, electric oven, hot plate or other cooking place. Use exhaust fans when you cook or take a shower.
  • Use a photoelectric type of smoke alarm near the kitchen and bathrooms.  You may see a (P) on the box. This type of alarm is less likely to sound because of cooking fumes or steam.
8. What should I do if my alarm sounds and there is no fire?
  • Fan the smoke or steam away from the alarm to stop the sound. You can use a dish towel or newspaper.
  • Some alarms have a “hush” button you can push.
  • Do not take the batteries out of the alarm or remove the alarm. 

Replacing smoke alarms

1. How often should I replace my smoke alarms with new ones?
  • Smoke alarms do not last forever.  Old smoke alarms may not work well if you have a fire.
  • Look for a date on the back or side of the alarm. Is the alarm more than 10 years old?  If it is, replace it with a new alarm.
  • If your alarm continues to chirp even after you put in a new battery, replace the alarm.

Kitchen safety behavior

1. How can I prevent fires while I’m cooking?

  • Stay in the kitchen if you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.  Keep an eye on what you fry!
  • Be extra careful when you are cooking with oil or grease because they can catch fire easily.
  • Keep things that can catch fire away from the burners and oven. Examples include potholders, paper, pizza boxes and curtains.
  • Do not cook if you are tired. Remember that some medicines and alcohol can make you feel sleepy.
  • When you are cooking something in the oven, stay in or near the kitchen. Check on the food often.
2.  What else can I do to prevent cooking fires and injuries?
  • Turn pot handles toward the center of the stove so children can’t reach them and you don’t bump into them. 
  • Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the stove if you are cooking. 
  • Wear tight-fitting sleeves when you are cooking. Loose sleeves can catch fire if they touch the flames or electric burner.
  • Keep the oven and stovetop clean. Grease or food can catch fire. 
  • Never use outdoor grills inside your home. 
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.
  • Check the kitchen after you finish cooking. Make sure the oven, burners, and other cooking appliances are off. 
3.   What should I do if a fire starts on top of the stove when cooking?
  • Turn off the burner.
  • Use an oven mitt or a potholder to pick up the lid of the pan or a cooking sheet.
  • Slide the lid or cooking sheet onto the burning pan to put out the flames.
  • Slide the lid or cooking sheet from front to back so you don’t get burned.
  • Leave the lid or cooking sheet on until the fire has stopped and the pan is cool.
  • When the pan is cool, take it off the burner. 
4.    What should I do if a fire starts in my oven while I am cooking?
  • Do not open the oven door. 
  • Turn off the oven. Keep the oven door closed until it is cool.
  • If the fire does not go out, leave your home and call 9-1-1 for help.
5. Should I have a smoke alarm inside my kitchen?
  • No. Sometimes smoke alarms sound when you cook or burn food. Put the alarm away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from your stove, electric oven, hot plate or other cooking place. 
  • A photoelectric alarm is the best kind to use near the kitchen.  Sometimes cooking fumes will make an ionization alarm sound even when there is no fire.  This does not happen as often with a photoelectric alarm.  Look for photoelectric (P) on the box.