- Carbon monoxide detectors are not substitutes for smoke detectors. Smoke detectors react to fire by-products, before CO detectors would alarm. Smoke detectors give earlier warning of a fire, providing more time to escape.
- To guard against smoke and fire, be sure that your home has working smoke detectors on every level and just outside of all sleeping areas.
- Know the difference between the sound of the smoke detectors and the sound of the carbon monoxide detector.
- Have a home evacuation plan for any home emergency and practice the plan with all members of the household.
Home Fire Escape Planning
What is a fire escape plan?
It's your strategy for a safe exit from your home during a fire emergency.
What ingredients make up an effective escape plan?
A careful escape plan begins with careful preparation, proper placement of smoke detectors and regular Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H.) practice. Hopefully you will never have a fire in your home. However, should a fire occur, your safety and that of your family will depend on calm, rational actions of the occupants. Exit drills in the home and a carefully designed escape plan can be the key to a safe escape.
How do I put together a fire escape plan?
Advanced planning will ensure that you are ready for any fire emergency and can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. To design your own fire escape plan, sketch the floor plan of your home on a piece of paper. Indicate on the plan all doors, windows and other avenues of escape from each room in your home. Draw arrows to indicate the normal exits which would be your primary escape route. With an alternate color, draw arrows to indicate a secondary exit from each room in the home.
Choose a location outside the home where family members should meet once they have safely escaped. A neighbour's front yard or sidewalk may be an ideal meeting place.
Call 112 to report the fire.
If you need help in designing your plan or if you would like to have your plan reviewed, contact your local fire department for assistance. After completion of the floor plan, sit down with your family to to discuss these important points with them:
- Location of smoke detectors. The number of detectors you need, and their location, depends upon the layout of your home. There should be a smoke detector located near each of the sleeping areas. It is also a good idea to have at least one detector on each level of your home.
- Reporting a Fire. Everyone should know the location of telephones in the home and where to find a telephone outside of the home. It is very important that children also know the 112 phone number in order to report a fire or other emergency incidents to authorities.
Now that we have our plan, what's next?
Your fire escape plan may look great on paper, but does it really work? Regular exit drills in the home will allow you to test the plan and make adjustments as may be needed. When practising your exit drills in the home, remember to use alternate escape routes as well. Children should be closely supervised during drills in the home and no one should take unnecessary chances.
One of our family members has special needs. How do we best include them in the plan?
Some people face greater risks during a fire emergency as they may have special needs. This would include individuals who are mentally or physically handicapped. Persons with special needs should sleep in a bedroom near someone who can help in the event of an emergency. A physically handicapped person may require a sleeping area on the ground floor. Designing a special escape plan will depend on the abilities of the person.
Exit Drills In The Home
can help people to prepare for an emergency.
Most home fires begin between the hours of midnight and 6:00 am. This is a time when most people are least prepared. In the middle of the night, fire can be a disaster if you and your family are not familiar with how to escape during an emergency.
So, to protect yourself and your family, remember these tips:
- Prepare a fire escape plan.
- Install and maintain smoke detectors.
- Practice Exit Drills In The Home regularly.
- Examine your home for fire hazards and take steps to prevent a fire before it occurs.
||Class A Extinguishers will
put out fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper. The
numerical rating for this class of fire extinguisher refers to the
amount of water the fire extinguisher holds and the amount of fire
it will extinguish.
||Class B Extinguishers should
be used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease,
gasoline, oil, etc. The numerical rating for this class of fire
extinguisher states the approximate number of square feet of a
flammable liquid fire that a non-expert person can expect to
Extinguishers are suitable for use on electrically
energized fires. This class of fire extinguishers does not have a
numerical rating. The presence of the letter “C” indicates that the
extinguishing agent is non-conductive.
||Class D Extinguishers are
designed for use on flammable metals and are often specific for the
type of metal in question. There is no picture designator for Class
D extinguishers. These extinguishers generally have no rating nor
are they given a multi-purpose rating for use on other types of
||Many extinguishers available today can be used on different
types of fires and will be labeled with more than one designator,
e.g. A-B, B-C, or A-B-C. Make sure that if you have a multi-purpose
extinguisher it is properly labeled.
|This is the old style of labeling indicating suitability for use
on Class A, B, and C fires.
||This is the new style of labeling that shows this extinguisher
may be used on Ordinary Combustibles, Flammable Liquids, or
Electrical Equipment fires. This is the new labeling style with a
diagonal red line drawn through the picture to indicate what type of
fire this extinguisher is NOT suitable for. In this
example, the fire extinguisher could be used on Ordinary
Combustibles and Flammable Liquids fires, but not for Electrical
|Dry Chemical extinguishers are usually rated
for multiple purpose use. They contain an extinguishing agent and
use a compressed, non-flammable gas as a
Halon extinguishers contain a gas that
interrupts the chemical reaction that takes place when fuels burn.
These types of extinguishers are often used to protect valuable
electrical equipment since them leave no residue to clean up. Halon
extinguishers have a limited range, usually 4 to 6 feet. The initial
application of Halon should be made at the base of the fire, even
after the flames have been extinguished.
Water These extinguishers contain
water and compressed gas and should only be used on Class A
(ordinary combustibles) fires.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are most
effective on Class B and C (liquids and electrical) fires. Since the
gas disperses quickly, these extinguishers are only effective from 3
to 8 feet. The carbon dioxide is stored as a compressed liquid in
the extinguisher; as it expands, it cools the surrounding air. The
cooling will often cause ice to form around the “horn” where the gas
is expelled from the extinguisher. Since the fire could re-ignite,
continue to apply the agent even after the fire appears to be o
How to Use a
extinguishers come in a number of shapes and sizes, they all operate in a
similar manner. Here's an easy acronym for fire extinguisher
P A S S -- Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep
||Pull the pin at the top of the
extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed.
||Aim the nozzle toward the base of
||Stand approximately 8 feet away from the
fire and squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher. If you release the handle,
the discharge will stop.
|Sweep the nozzle back and forth at
the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it
carefully since it may re-ignite!
|Congratulations -- you did
Why do we need smoke detectors?
Is there proof that smoke detectors save lives?
Smoke detectors can save your life and those of your family. Most fatal home fires occur at night, while people sleep. Fire produces toxic gases and smoke that actually numb the senses. If you're asleep, or become disoriented by toxic gases, you may not even realize that there is a fire. You can't rely on your own senses to detect a fire.
Yes. Almost every day, news reports across the country tell of cases where smoke detectors have saved lives. In several instances, the battery-operated detectors were not mounted, but still alerted families to fire. Fire officials continually cite smoke detectors as life savers in home fires.
What do I look for when choosing a smoke detector?
Look for the following when selecting your home smoke detector.
- It should display the marking of a recognized independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Lab (UL) etc. and be listed and approved for sale, installation and home use.
- It should have a warning signal that warns you when bulbs or batteries need replacing.
- The batteries and bulb should be readily available for purchase and easy to replace.
- The smoke detector's alarm must be loud enough (85 decibel or louder) to wake a sleeping person behind a closed door. Special detectors are available for hard of hearing persons.
Where should I install a smoke detector?
At the bare minimum, you should have one detector for each level in your home. A detector needs to be placed within 10 feet of sleeping areas, since most fire deaths occur at night while people are sleeping. The detector should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall -- six to twelve inches below the ceiling. It should never be placed in the dead-air space, such as where wall and ceiling meet or in a corner. Nor should it be placed near heating ducts or cold air returns. The air flow around these areas could prevent the smoke-filled air from collecting in the detector in sufficient amounts as to activate it. Avoid installing a detector near bathrooms with showers. Steam can sometimes cause false alarms and the moisture can rust metal components of the detector. Also avoid areas where nominal amounts of smoke may normally be present, such as kitchens or other cooking spaces, furnace rooms, or near fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. More information on home installation.
What about a heat detector? Do I need one of those, too?
Heat detectors are no substitute for smoke detectors. They set off an alarm in response to heat only. They do add protection and can be helpful in basements, kitchens, attics and garages. But for life safety purposes be sure your home is protected by a smoke detector.
Should I test my smoke detector? How often?
Every detector comes with testing instructions. Activating the testing mechanism once a month should be sufficient. Always test battery powered detectors after a vacation or having been away from home for a week or more. The battery may have gone dead and you may have missed its warning alarm.
How should I care for a smoke detector?
Vacuum the detector once or twice a year to remove any dust or cobwebs. This will cut down on false alarms. Most battery powered smoke detectors will 'chirp' sporadically when the battery is weak. We recommend that batteries be changed once a year, perhaps a significant day -- your birthday, January 1st or when you change your clocks in the spring or fall.
Which is better -- battery-powered or AC-powered detectors?
It really is a matter of preference. They both have benefits and drawbacks. The key point to remember is that whichever model your choose, be sure to maintain it according to manufacturer's directions. Hard-wired detectors (AC-powered) are powered by the current in your house wires. This is appealing because you never have to worry about battery replacement. Multiple detectors can be wired together so that if a fire starts in the basement of a two story house, all the detectors will sound immediately. There can be a problem with hard-wired detectors, however. If there is a power failure due to storm, fire, etc., the detectors will not sound without electrical power. There are now AC powered units on the market with a battery backup. As an alternative, install a battery powered unit near each AC-powered unit. This dual power source method also provides additional detection!
I've heard that there are different types of smoke detectors? Can you explain the differences? Is one better than the other?
You are probably referring to ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors. Both types are approved by nationally recognized testing laboratories. Ionization models respond slightly faster to open flaming fires while photoelectric models respond faster to smoldering fires. Ideally, a home should be protected by at least one of each. If you can afford just one type of detector, a photoelectric is recommended. Photoelectric smoke detectors use either an incandescent light bulb or a light emitting diode (LED) to send forth a beam of light. When smoke enters the detector, light from the beam is reflected from the smoke particles into a photocell sensor and the alarm is triggered. The ionization chamber smoke detector has a small radiation source that produces radioactive material, electrically charged air molecules called ions. These ions cause a small electric current to flow in the chamber. Smoke particles entering the chamber attach themselves to the ions, reducing the electrical flow. The change in current sets off the alarm.
What should we do if the smoke detector sounds?
If a smoke detector is sounding, there is a reason! Never ignore the sound of a smoke detector! You and your family must be able to escape quickly and safely. Here are some steps your family can take:
- Draw up and rehearse a fire evacuation plan from your house. See EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home) for more information.
- Make sure each family member knows two ways to escape from any room in the house.
- Always check the door to see if it is hot before opening it to escape.
- If you must go through a smoke-filled area, crawl on your hands and knees. There will be less smoke and heat at floor level.
- Make sure everyone knows the prearranged location outside of the house to meet. This way you can count noses and be sure everyone is safe.
- Call 9-1-1 from a neighbour's house or the nearest phone outside of your house.
- Never return to the inside of a burning building.