Focus on Fire Safety: Emergency Preparedness
September 2009 marks the sixth annual observance of National Preparedness Month. This year’s focus is on changing perceptions about emergency preparedness and helping Americans understand what it truly means to be Ready.
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it’s important to prepare an emergency supply kit that includes basic needs for survival, develop a family emergency plan, and be informed about the different types of emergencies that may occur where you live and the appropriate ways to respond to them.
In most types of disaster related emergencies, the risk of fire is increased due to loose electrical wires, flooding, broken gas lines, or the lack of electricity. Be fire wise … Prepare, Plan, and Stay Informed!
Prepare for an Emergency
The Ready Campaign and its partner Citizen Corps ask Americans to take these important steps to prepare:
Get a Kit
1. Get a Kit
In a basic emergency supply kit, the Ready Campaign recommends including the following:
* One gallon of water per person per day for three days – remember to include enough for your pets too
* At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Also, choose foods your family will eat, such as ready-to-eat canned meats, peanut butter, protein or fruit bars, and dry cereal or granola. Also, pack a manual can opener and utensils.
* Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
* Flashlight with extra batteries
* First aid kit
* Whistle to signal for help
* Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
* Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
* Local maps
And don’t forget about the special needs of family members:
* Prescription medications and glasses
* Infant formula and diapers
* Pet food, extra water for your pet, leash and collar
* Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
* Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Make a Plan
2. Make a Plan
Preparing a family emergency plan is simple. It will help your family to stay in contact if they are separated during an emergency.
The emergency plan includes the physical address, phone number and evacuation locations for work, school, and other most frequented locations. Remember to include phone and policy numbers for doctors, pharmacies, medical insurance, homeowners insurance, and vet or kennels.
Most importantly, the Plan should include:
* Out-of-town contact
* Neighborhood meeting place
* Regional meeting place
* Evacuation location
For a free template of a complete plan, please visit the Ready Web site.
3. Be Informed
Being informed about the different types of emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate ways to respond to them will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.
In addition, learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government.
Install smoke alarms
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
Plan your escape from fire
Plan your escape from fire.
Prepare for a Fire Emergency
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames. By preparing for a fire emergency, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty.
* Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. For extra safety, install smoke alarms both inside and outside sleeping areas.
* Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries at least once a year.
* Replace smoke alarms every 8-10 years or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.
* Plan your escape from fire. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room.
* Practice fire escape plans several times a year. Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
* Purchase only collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
* Check that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
* Make sure everyone in your family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
* Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.
Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency phone number if you need help or have questions about fire safety in your home.