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Fire Prevention Week is October 6–12, 2019

Fire can spread quickly through your home or facility, leaving you little time to safely escape. Fire evacuation plans, smoke detectors, sprinklers, and properly-maintained fire extinguishers can help save lives.

Evacuation Plans

Evacuation plans must include a map of your facility or home showing two exits (windows or doors) and a path to the outside from each exit. Practice fire drills twice a year, at different times and using different exits. At home, teach children how to escape on their own in the event an adult is unable to help them. When evacuating a burning building, close doors behind you when you leave as this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

Smoke Detectors

Nearly 2,500 people die in home fires every year in the United States. Most of these people live in homes that do not have working smoke detectors. Approximately 60 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in which smoke detectors were not present or didn’t work. To find out how old your smoke detector is, remove it from the wall or ceiling and look at the manufacture date on the back of the alarm. Smoke detectors must be replaced every 10 years.

Place smoke detectors on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and inside every bedroom. There are many brands of smoke detectors on the market, including alarms for people who are deaf or blind. These alarms may have strobe lights that flash or vibrate to alert those who are unable to hear standard smoke detectors when they sound. For the best protection, make sure all smoke detectors are interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.

Have you checked your smoke detector to make sure it’s still working? A smoke detector with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke detector at all. Test the alarm monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. A smoke detector only works when you properly install and regularly test it. Some fire departments will install battery-operated smoke detectors in your home for free. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency number for more information.

Sprinkler Requirements

Don’t forget to check sprinkler systems to ensure compliance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association require a minimum distance of 18 inches between shelves, furniture, and stacked materials located directly under a sprinkler head.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers must be easy to identify and mounted so that they are readily accessible. There are four types of fire extinguishers — select the proper one for the type of fire you may have to put out. Portable fire extinguishers must be fully charged and kept in designated locations at all times. OSHA requires employers to inspect, maintain, and test all portable extinguishers in the workplace. Every fire extinguisher must receive:

n A monthly visual inspection,

n An annual inspection, and

n Maintenance conducted by trained professionals.

Record monthly fire extinguisher inspections by dating and initialing PS Form 4705, Fire Inspection Tag. You must record annual maintenance on a separate tag provided by service professionals.