Fire Safety

Between 75% and 90% of all residential fire deaths could have been prevented by the use of smoke detector and residential sprinkler combination!
Information from the National fire
Safety Council, Inc.

Fire Facts:

  • 80% of fire
    deaths happen in the home.

  • 50% of fire
    s did not have a working smoke detector

  • 60-70% of fire
    s are started intentionally by juveniles

  • 3 kids die everyday due to playing with lighters/matches

Fires can happen anywhere. A fire in a large building creates an enormous risk to everyone. Other reasons for evacuating buildings include natural gas leaks, earthquakes, hazardous material spills and storms. Knowing what to do is the key to surviving a fire emergency. Conducting regular fire drills will give you the knowledge and confidence to escape a fire safely. There are two steps for a good evacuation program - Planning and Practice.


E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home) is an excellent step for  fire safety!
Sleep with your doors closed to stop the spread of smoke and fire.

Planning gives you the information you need ahead of time to evacuate safely. In the workplace, employees and supervisors should plan together for exiting their worksite. At school, involve all school staff including teachers, administrative and office workers, the maintenance and food staff.

Working together, design an evacuation plan to meet the specific needs of your building and your occupants. Make the plan clear and concise. Review the plan and walk through the exit procedure to make sure that everyone knows what to do.

Each building, whether it is a school, workplace or multi-family living unit, should have a posted exit diagram (plan) and everyone should be familiar with it.

Be sure that smoke detectors are installed and maintained. Know the sound of the fire alarm. Everyone should recognize and respond to the sound of the smoke detector or other fire alarm immediately. Immediate response is vital for quick, orderly evacuation.

Everyone should exit in an orderly manner to prevent confusion and minimize panic or injury. NO one should push his or her way out of an exit. Single file lines are best in controlling traffic to the exits.

Consider special needs people. When developing your escape plan remember that younger, older, or disabled people may need special assistance. Anyone with special needs should be located as close to an exit as possible. Train others to give special assistance with evacuation.

Be sure to know two ways out. There should be two ways out of every area of the home, school, or workplace. IF smoke or fire blocks the primary exit, use your second exit. Point out all emergency exits as you walk through the emergency procedure.

Always use the stairways to exit multi-story buildings. Do not use an elevator. An elevator may stop between floors, or go to the fire floor and stop with the doors open.

IF a room or corridor is filled with smoke, crawl low on your hands and knees to exit. The cleaner air is closer to the ground.

Plan your meeting place. A designated meeting place outside the building is a vital part of an evacuation plan. Count heads. Be aware of who is there (hopefully everybody will be accounted for) and who is not there. When the fire department arrives, you can report if there is anyone missing.

Know what to do if you can't escape. You'll need to plan your actions in case immediate escape is impossible. If possible, for example, stay in a room with an outside window and always-close doors between you and the fire. Think about what you could use - sheets, towels, curtains, or even large pieces of clothing - to stuff around cracks near the door and wave as a signal to rescuers. Know how to open the window to ventilate smoke, but be prepared to close the window immediately if an open window makes the room smokier. If there is a phone, call the fire department with your location, even if firefighters are already on the scene. Remember; stay low in smoke until you're rescued.


After planning, practice to make sure that everyone knows what to do. Have fire drills. Practice your fire escape periodically throughout the year. Remember that the element of surprise simulates a real fire and adds essential realism to your fire drill program.

Time is the most important factor in escaping a fire. Fires can double in size every thirty seconds.  If it is only one room, in thirty seconds it can be two rooms.  Practicing the "EDITH" plan will increase your ability to escape!

Appoint someone to monitor the drill. This person will sound the alarm and make the drill realistic by requiring participants to use their second way out or to crawl low. This could be done by having someone hold up a sign reading "smoke" or "exit blocked by fire." The monitor also will measure how long complete evacuation takes.

Coordinate arrangements for fire drills in apartments or other multi-family homes, in schools or in workplaces with the local fire department.

When everyone is back inside the building after the drill, gather everyone together to discuss any questions or problems that occurred during the drill. Redesign the drill procedures as needed. Make the next fire drill even more effective.

Remember, once you are outside, stay outside. Don't go back in until the proper authorities say it is okay.


Smoke Detectors warn you in time to escape from a fire.

The Best Place For Your Smoke Detectors:
  • outside the bedrooms
  • each level in the home.
Take Care of Them:

One in Three smoke detectors in homes are not in working order.

  • Test monthly.
  • Replace battery twice a year, (when you change the clocks, spring and fall) or when they make a "chirping sound.
  • Replace Smoke Detectors every 10 years.
Know How To Escape:
  • Always help those who need help.
  • Two ways out of every room.
  • Plan your escape route and practice leaving your home.
  • Decide one place outside where family members should meet.
  • BUY IT!

Help them fight home fires!

Residential sprinklers are a method of ensuring your family's safety. Sprinklers detect potential fire and can quickly control a potentially dangerous situation.

  • Properly installed, residential sprinklers greatly reduce the incidence of fire death.

  • The average cost of residential sprinklers is $1.50 per square foot of coverage.

  • The cost of sprinklers is cheaper than having new carpeting placed in your home.

  • Building costs and supplies are often cheaper when using a residential sprinkler system.

  • Residential sprinklers can put out 90% of fires with one sprinkler head.

  • Fewer trips by the fire department increases the department's availability for large scale emergencies.

  • A small fire can be put out with a single sprinkler head ... imagine the effectiveness of a network of sprinklers installed all over your home.

  • How they work:
    Residential sprinklers use "elements" to detect and respond automatically to the source of heat.  To reduce water damage, each sprinkler head acts independently of the others.  Many are hooked directly to your waterline and require very minimal water pressure.

  • There are several types of residential sprinklers to fit new or older homes.  A single sprinkler head releases 13-14 gallons of water per minute on a fire.  Compare that amount to a firehose releasing 125-500 gallons of water per minute!

  • After a fire bursts into flames, an entire room can be consumed within three minutes time.  Most fires are not reported until 10 minutes after the fire began.

Most people feel confident, but a smoke detector just isn't enough.
If a fire takes place, people believe the smell of smoke, a barking dog, an alert neighbor, personal intuition, or the buzzing of a smoke detector will urge them to safety.  Unfortunately, people and animals fall into a deeper sleep because of the potent fumes.  Neighbors will not see the fire until it is too large to fight.

  • Americans spend over 50% of their day at home where fires occur most frequently.
  • Each year over 2 million fires take the lives of an estimated 5,200 people.

Residential sprinklers protect from the fires you don't detect!

One of the most painful injuries that one can ever experience is a burn injury. When a burn occurs to the skin, nerve endings are damaged causing intense feelings of pain. Every year, millions of people in the United States are burned in one way or another. Of those, thousands die as a result of their burns. Many require long-term hospitalization. Burns are a leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, exceeded in numbers only by automobile crashes and falls.

Serious burns are complex injuries. In addition to the burn injury itself, a number of other functions may be affected. Burn injuries can affect muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels. The respiratory system can be damaged, with possible airway obstruction, respiratory failure and respiratory arrest. Since burns injure the skin, they impair the body's normal fluid/electrolyte balance, body temperature, body thermal regulation, joint function, manual dexterity, and physical appearance. In addition to the physical damage caused by burns, patients also may suffer emotional and psychological problems that begin at the emergency scene and could last a long time.

Classifying burns

Burns are classified in two ways: Method and degree of burn.

Methods are:

  • Thermal - including flame, radiation, or excessive heat from fire, steam, and hot liquids and hot objects.
  • Chemical - including various acids, bases and caustics.
  • Electrical - including electrical current and lightening.
  • Light - burns caused by intense light source or ultraviolet light, which includes sunlight.
  • Radiation - such as from nuclear sources. Ultraviolet light is also a source of radiation burns.
  • Never assume the source of a burn. Gather information and be sure.

Degrees are:

  • First-degree burns are superficial injuries that involve only the epidermis or outer layer of skin. They are the most common and the most minor of all burns. The skin is reddened and extremely painful. The burn will heal on its own without scarring within two to five days. There may be peeling of the skin and some temporary discoloration.
  • Second-degree burns occur when the first layer of skin is burned through and the second layer, the dermal layer, is damaged both the burn does not pass through to underlying tissues. The skin appears moist and there will be deep intense pain, reddening, blisters and a mottled appearance to the skin. Second-degree burns are considered minor if they involve less than 15 percent of the body surface in adults and less then 10 percent in children. When treated with reasonable care, second-degree burns will heal themselves and produce very little scarring. Healing is usually complete within three weeks.
  • Third degree burns involve all the layers of the skin. They are referred to as full thickness burns and are the most serious of all burns. These are usually charred black and include areas that are dry and white. While a third-degree burn may be very painful, some patients feel little or no pain because the nerve endings have been destroyed. This type of burn may require skin grafting. As third degree burns heal, dense scars form.

Determining the severity of burns

  • Source of the burn - a minor burn caused by nuclear radiation is more severe than a burn caused by thermal sources. Chemical burns are dangerous because the chemical may still be on the skin.
  • Body regions burned - burns to the face are more severe because they could affect airway management or the eyes. Burns to hands and feet are also of special concern because they could impede movement of fingers and toes.
  • Degree of the burn - the degree of the burn is important because it could cause infection of exposed tissues and permit invasion of the circulatory system.

Treatment of burns

Cool a burn with water. Do what you must to get cool water on the burn as soon as you can. Go to the nearest water faucet and turn on the cold spigot and get cool water on the burn. Put cool, water-soaked cloths on the burn. If possible, avoid icy cold water and ice cubes, such measures could cause further damage to burned skin.

Never apply ointment, grease or butter to the burned area. Applying such products, actually confine the heat of the burn to the skin and do not allow the damaged area to cool. In essence, the skin continues to "simmer." After the initial trauma of the burn and after it has had sufficient time to cool, it would then be appropriate to put an ointment on the burn. Ointments help prevent infection.

The one exception to the "Cool a Burn" method is when the burn is caused by lime powder. In that case, carefully brush the lime off the skin completely and then flush the area with water. In the event of any serious burns, call 911.

Recovering from a fire may take a long time and many of the things you have to do will be new to you. If you are not insured, your recovery from a fire loss most likely will be dependent upon your resources. Private organizations that can help include the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. You could talk with your church or synagogue. Local civic groups such as the Lions or Rotary Clubs also can be of help.

  • Insurance Information
  • Valuing your property
  • Adjusting the loss
  • Replacement of Valuable documents and records

Salvage Hints

Insurance Information

  • If you are insured, your insurance will be the most important single component in recovering from a fire loss. A number of coverage’s are available such as – homeowner’s, tenant’s or condominium owner’s insurance policies.
  • Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurer. The insurer promises to do certain things for you. In turn, you have certain obligations. Among your duties after a fire loss would be to give immediate notice of the loss to the insurance company or the insurer’s agent.
  • Protect the property from further damage by making sensible or necessary repairs such as covering holes in the roof or walls. Take reasonable precautions against loss, such as draining water lines in winter if the house will be unheated for some time. The insurance company may refuse to pay losses that occur from not taking such reasonable care.
  • Make an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity, description, original purchase price, purchase date, damage estimate and replacement cost.
  • Cooperate with the insurer or his/her adjuster by exhibiting the damaged property.
  • Submit, within a stated time period (usually 30-60 days), a formal statement of loss. Such a statement should include:
  1. The time and cause of loss.
  2. The names and addresses of those who have an interest in the property. These might include the mortgage holder, a separated or divorced spouse or a lien holder.
  3. Building plans and specifications of the original home and a detailed estimate for repairs.
  4. The damage inventory mentioned above.
  5. Receipts for additional living expenses and loss of use claims.

Valuing your property

A pre-fire inventory along with a videotape of all your property could prove to be a valuable record when making your claim.

When adjusting your fire loss or in claiming a casualty loss on your Federal income tax, you will have to deal with various viewpoints on the value of your property. Some terms used are listed below:

Your "personal valuation" is your attachment to and personal valuation of your property lost in a fire. Personal items have a certain sentimental value. This term is not meant to belittle their value to you but is used to separate feelings about the value from objective measures of value. It will be objective measures of value that you, the insurer, and the Internal Revenue Service will use as a common ground.

The "cost when purchased" is an important element in establishing an item’s final value. Receipts will help verify the cost price.

Fair market value before the fire also is expressed as "actual cash value." This is what you could have gotten for the item if you had sold it the day before the fire. Its price would reflect its cost at purchase and the wear it had sustained since then. Depreciation is the formal term to express the amount of value an item loses over a period of time.

"Value after the fire" is sometimes called the item’s "salvage value."

The cost to replace the item with a like, but not necessarily identical, item is the replacement cost.

Adjusting the Loss

"Loss adjustment" is the process of establishing the value of the damaged property. This is the result of a joint effort among a number of parties. Basic parties to the process are the owner or occupant and the insurance company and its representatives.

The owner or occupant is required by the insurance contract to prepare an inventory and cooperate in the loss valuation process. All insurance agents may act as the adjuster if the loss is small. The insurer may send an adjuster who is a permanent member of the insurer’s staff, or the company may hire an independent adjuster to act in its behalf. It is the insurance adjuster’s job, as a representative of the insurance company, to monitor and assist in the loss valuation process and to bring the loss to a just and equitable settlement.

Either you or the insurer may hire the services of a fire damage restoration firm or fire damage service company. These firms provide a range of services that may include some or all of the following:

  • Securing the site against further damage
  • Estimating structural damage
  • Repairing structural damage
  • Estimating the cost to repair or renew items of personal property
  • Packing, transportation, and storage of household items
  • Securing appropriate cleaning or repair subcontractors
  • Storing repaired items until needed

It is important to coordinate with the insurance adjuster before contracting for any services. If you invade the insurer’s responsibility area by contracting without its knowledge or consent, you may be left with bills to pay that otherwise would have been covered by the insurer.

Replacement of Valuable Documents and Records

Item Whom to contact

Drivers license Local Department of Motor Vehicles
Bank books Your bank, as soon as possible
Insurance policies Your insurance agent
Military discharge papers Local Veterans Administration
Passports Local passport office
Birth, death, marriage certificates State Bureau of Records in the state of birth, death of marriage.
Divorce papers Circuit Court where decree was issued
Social Security or Medicare cards Local Social Security Office
Credit Cards The issuing companies, as soon as possible
Titles to deeds Records department of city or county
Stocks and bonds Issuing company or your broker
Wills Your lawyer
Medical records Your doctor
Warranties Issuing company
Income tax records The Internal Revenue Service Center where filed or your accountant
Auto registration title department of Motor Vehicles
Citizenship papers The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Prepaid burial contracts Issuing Company
Animal registration papers Society of registry

Salvage Hints

Clothing – Smoke odor and soot sometimes can be washed from clothing. The following formula often will work for clothing that can be bleached:

  • 4-6 tbsp. Of Tri-Sodium Phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or any household chlorine bleach
  • 1-gallon warm water
  • Mix well, add clothes, and rinse with clear water and dry well.

Be aware that Tri-Sodium Phosphate is a caustic substance used as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and stored out of reach of children and pets. Wear rubber gloves when using it. Read the label carefully. To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water. Then rinse and dry in sun. If the stain has not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt, or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.

Cooking Utensils – your pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then polished with a fine-powered cleaner. You can polish copper and brass with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.

Electrical Appliances – Appliances that have been exposed to 3water or steam should not be used until you have a service representative check them. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from some moving parts. If the fire department turned off your gas or power during the fire, call the electric or gas company to restore these services – DO NOT TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF.

Food – Wash your canned goods in detergent and water. Do the same for food in jars. If labels come off, be sure to mark the contents on the can or jar with a grease pencil. Do not use canned goods when cans have bulged or are dented or rusted.

If your home freezer stopped running, you still can save the frozen food. Keep the freezer closed. Your freezer has enough insulation to keep food frozen for at least one day – perhaps for as many as two or three days. Move your food to a neighbor’s freezer or a rented locker. Wrap the frozen food in newspapers and blankets or use insulated boxes. Do not re-freeze food that has thawed.

To remove odor from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one-cup vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Some baking soda in an open container, or a piece of charcoal can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odor.

Flooring and Rugs – When water gets underneath linoleum, it can cause odors and warp the wood floor. If this happens, remove the entire sheet. If the linoleum is brittle, a heat lamp will soften it so it can be rolled up without breaking. If carefully removed, it can be re-cemented after the floor has completely dried. Small blisters in linoleum can be punctured with a nail and re-cemented if you are careful. Dilute regular linoleum paste thin enough to go through a hand syringe and shoot adhesive through the nail hole. Weigh down the linoleum with bricks or boards. It usually is possible to cement loose tiles of any type. Wait until the floor is completely dry before beginning.

Rugs and carpets also should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Beating, sweeping or vacuuming, and then shampooing then can clean throw rugs. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay them flat, and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are thoroughly dry. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly rot a rug. For information on cleaning and preserving carpets, call your carpet dealer or installer or qualified carpet cleaning professional.

Mattresses and Pillows – Reconditioning an innerspring mattress at home is very difficult, if not impossible. If you must use your mattress temporarily, put it out into the sun to dry. Then cover it with rubber or plastic sheeting. It is almost impossible to get smoke odor out of pillows. The feathers and foam retain the odor.

Leather and Books – Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then a dry clothe. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to retain shape. Leave suitcases open. Leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. When leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap. You can use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold weather and dry away from heat and sun.

Wet books must be taken care of as soon as possible. The best methods to save wet books are to freeze them in a vacuum freezer. This special freezer will remove the moisture without damaging the pages.

If there will be a delay in locating such a freezer, place them in a normal freezer until a vacuum freezer can be located.

Locks and Hinges – Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart, wiped with kerosene and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges also should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Walls and Furniture – To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors mix together:

  • 4-6 tbsp. Tri-Sodium Phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or any chloride bleach
  • 1-gallon warm water

Wear rubber gloves when cleaning. After washing the article, rinse with clear warm water and dry thoroughly.

Walls may be washed down while wet. Use a mild soap or detergent. Wash a small area at one time, working from the floor up. Then rinse the wall with clear water immediately. Ceilings should be washed last. Do not repaint until the walls and ceilings are completely dry.

Wallpaper also can be repaired. Use a commercial paste to re-paste loose edges or sections. contact your local wallpaper dealer or installer for information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper can be washed like an ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to soak the paper. Work from the bottom to top to prevent streaking.

Do not dry your furniture in the sun. The wood will warp and twist out of shape. Clear off the mud and dirt by scrubbing with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution. You can also rub the wood surface with a 4/0 steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax, wipe with a soft cloth, then buff. Remove the drawers and let them dry thoroughly so there will be no sticking when you replace them. Wet wood can decay and mold, so allow it to dry thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn on your furnace or air conditioner, if necessary. If mold forms, wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot water. To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half-cup of household ammonia and a half-cup of water. Wipe dry and polish with wax, or rub the surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half-cup turpentine and a half-cup of linseed oil. Be careful because turpentine is combustible.

Money Replacement – Handle burned money as little as possible. Attempt to encase each bill or portion of a bill in plastic wrap for preservation. If money is only half-burned or less (if half or more of the bill is intact), you can take the remainder to your local Federal Reserve Bank for replacement. Ask your personal bank for the nearest one. Or you can mail the burned or torn money via FIRST CLASS REGISTERED MAIL to:

U.S. Treasury Department

Main Treasury Building, Room 1123

Washington, D.C. 20220

Mutilated or melted coins can be taken to the Federal Reserve Bank, or mailed via FIRST CLASS REGISTERED MAIL to:

Superintendent, U.S. Assay Office

32 Old Slip

New York, NY 10005

If your U.S, Savings Bonds have been mutilated or destroyed, write to:

U.S. Treasury Department

Bureau of Public Debt

Division of Loans and Currency

537 South Clark St.

Chicago, IL 60605

Attn: Bond Consultant

Include name(s) on bonds, approximate date or time period when purchased, denominations and approximate number of each.