Each year, fire claims the lives of 4,000 Americans and injures approximately 25,000. Many of these fires are reportedly caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, such as overloading extension cords or using portable space heaters too close to combustibles, such as bedding, furniture and curtains.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and Mississippi Emergency Management would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from fires.
* Do not make any changes to your temporary home unless approved by FEMA.
* Do not bring combustible materials (flammable liquids, etc.) into your unit.
* Do not smoke in bed or use an open flame as a flashlight.
* Do not leave cooking food unattended. Keep all cooking surfaces clean.
* Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.
* Refrain from using electric space heaters as a heat source.
* Take extra care when using portable heaters. Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters.
* Only use Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.
* Never smoke in bed.
* Have a family escape plan and practice it every month. Make sure that everyone knows how to open the emergency windows so no time is wasted when fire strikes. These windows are labeled with operating instructions. Everyone in the family, as well as frequent visitors and babysitters, should practice the escape plan, including opening the escape windows.
* Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor’s home to phone the fire department.
* Once Out, Stay Out. Remember to escape first, and then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.
For additional fire safety tips, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/safety/ or your local fire department.
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