The State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci wants to remind all Marylanders of the importance and value of fire prevention. Nine fire deaths have been recorded during the first 30 days of the New Year. Six of these deaths involved victims under the age of 18. Two victims were over the age of 50 and one victim was the age of 41.
Practicing fire prevention along with planning and implementation of escape plans are our first line of defense in surviving the effects of fire. Occupants have three minutes or less from the sounding of a smoke alarm to escape the smoke and toxic gases created by a fire inside the home. “It is imperative we take the necessary precautions to not only prevent a fire from occurring, but to also prepare if a fire develops unexpectedly within our homes,” stated Geraci. “We all must take personal accountability in protecting ourselves and our families from the effects of fire”.
The following is a condensed list of ways to protect Marylanders from the potential life safety risks of uncontrolled fire in their homes.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. It is also recommended to install smoke alarms inside the bedrooms as well. Test and vacuum smoke alarms monthly. Change batteries every year. Replace smoke alarms after every ten years. Battery-only smoke alarms shall need to be replaced with 10-year long life sealed battery smoke alarms by January 1, 2018.
• Keep doors closed while sleeping. A closed door will help stop smoke, toxic gases and flames from entering your room, effectively giving you more time to escape or be rescued.
• Plan and practice your home fire escape plan. Know two ways out of every room. Have a predetermined meeting location outside.
• If smoking materials are used, please use a deep ashtray and smoke outdoors. Always ensure smoking materials are completely extinguished when finished.
• Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children. Instruct children to alert an adult if they locate matches or lighters and not to touch them.
• Replace frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged electrical cords.
• Limit use of extension cords and don’t overload electrical circuits.
• Never run electrical cords under carpet or rugs.
• Keep the stovetop clean and remove any combustible items on or near the stove area.
• Never leave cooking food unattended. Turn off the stove if you need to leave the room.
• Have chimneys properly cleaned and maintained.
• Never use an accelerant in a fireplace or woodstove.
• Burn only seasoned, dry wood to help prevent creosote build-up in chimneys and woodstoves.
• Keep combustibles three feet away from any heating appliance or fireplace.
• Have your furnace checked and cleaned for proper operation.
• Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide. Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of dangerous carbon monoxide levels.
• Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods. Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
• Check the clothes dryer vent pipe and ensure lint build-up is removed.
• Keep flammable liquids in tightly sealed containers and store away from sources of heat.
IF A FIRE OCCURS
Get Out and Stay Out. Leave your home as soon as possible. Do not try to gather personal possessions or attempt to extinguish a fire. Do not use the elevator. Once out, do not go back inside. Call 911 after you leave the home. Go to your predetermined safe location outdoors.
Test the Doors Before Opening Them. Using the back of your hand, reach up high and touch the door, the doorknob, and the space between the door and the frame. If anything feels hot, keep the door shut and use your second exit. If everything feels cool, open the door slowly and exit as low to the ground as possible if smoke is present.
Stay Low and Go. Crawl low and keep under the smoke, if you are physically able. If not, try to cover your mouth and nose to avoid breathing toxic fumes, and make your way to safety as quickly as possible.
What to Do If You Are Trapped. Close all the doors between you and the fire. Fill cracks in doors and cover all vents with a damp cloth to keep smoke out. If possible, call the fire department and tell them where you are located. Signal rescuers from a window with a light-colored cloth.
Stop, Drop, and Roll. If any part of you catches fire, do not run and do not try to extinguish the flames with your hands. Cover your face with your hands. Drop to the ground, rolling over and over. If you have a disability that prevents you from taking these actions, try to keep a flame-resistant blanket or rug nearby to smother any flames.
lose the Doors. If a fire occurs inside your home, close the doors as you leave to help contain the fire and slow the progression of the blaze.
Please make informed and fire safe decisions throughout the rest of the year to protect yourself and your loved ones. #firesafety