HSMC understands that fire is one of the most common disasters one would have to face, and it causes more deaths than any other type of disaster.  Are you prepared for a residential fire? Few people are!

Did you know that many house fires are caused by an over-loaded lint trap in the dryer?  Whatever the cause, you can make your home a safer place for yourself and for your family by implementing some of the following suggestions.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors save lives!   Have smoke detectors installed outside each sleeping area and place one on each level of your home.

For battery-powered units, use the test button to check each smoke detector every month, and replace all non-functioning batteries immediately.

As a standard rule of thumb, replace all batteries at least once a year – for instance, annually on your birthday or on the Fourth of July.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are not designed to fight a large fire or a spreading fire.  Even against small fires, they are useful only under the right conditions.  An extinguisher must be large enough for the fire at hand, and it must be the correct type of extinguisher for the specific type of fire.  It must be readily available and in working order - fully charged.  The operator should be familiar with the extinguisher, so it won't be necessary to read directions during an emergency.

Buy fire extinguishers for particularly vulnerable rooms in your house, such as: the kitchen, the workshop, the garage, or near a room with a fireplace.

Your local fire department can assist you with the decision about what type to buy and can help you with the training you will need on how to use your extinguisher.

Escape Plan

You and your family should plan escape routes from the premises in the event of a fire. Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.  If you see smoke in your first escape route, use your second way out.  If you will need an escape ladder, be sure everyone knows how to use it ahead of time.

Select a location outside of the premises where everyone should meet after they leave the building.  Everyone should be told that once you are outside, stay there!  Do not re-enter the building! Practice an escape plan with your family at least twice a year.

Escape Protocols

If the building is filled with smoke, crawl low under the smoke to escape.  If you must escape through a closed door, feel the door before opening it.  If it is hot, use your second way out.  If heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed.  Place a brightly-

colored cloth on any exterior window in the room to signal for help.  If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them what your location is within the premises.

Personalized Fire Plan

A fire doesn't have to be deadly.  If you have early warning from your alarm system - and if you have a plan - everyone in your family should be able to escape safely. You need to know how to escape using a predetermined plan and you need to practice the plan at least twice a year.

Use the "Personalized Fire Plan" checklist below.  Have each household member take turns and be responsible for completing the check-off during a drill.  When you’re finished with the drill, get together to discuss it and to finalize your personalized plan.

  • Install smoke detectors outside each sleeping area and on each level of your residence
  • Keep new batteries on hand for non-hardwired units
  • Indicate the date the smoke detectors were installed or the date the batteries were purchased
  • Test smoke detectors once a month. Chart the date of the test and sign your initials
  • Indicate the date each fire extinguisher was purchased.
  • Check the fire extinguisher monthly to ensure it is properly charged.  Indicate the date of the test.  Use the gauge or test button to check for proper pressure.  If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, replace it - or have it professionally serviced. Document the date of any new purchases or repairs.
  • Indicate the date the floor plan of your home was completed; mark two fire escape routes for each room on the plan.
  • Check to be sure each member of the family knows where to meet outside of the premises after escaping from a fire.
  • Practice a low-crawl escape from your bedroom. Try it with your eyes closed to see how well you would do in thick smoke.
  • Indicate the dates each semi-annual home fire drill was conducted.