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Making Your Home Safe from Fire and Carbon Monoxide
Safety & You
The safety issue is extremely important today, as thousands of injuries and untimely deaths are occurring needlessly. Many of these injuries and deaths can be prevented.
Everyone wants to live in a safe and worry-free environment with their families, spouse, and children. However, most people are closer to a disaster waiting to happen than they think. You, the consumer, may feel safe. Safety may not be an issue that comes to mind as you go about your daily routine. Yet, lurking in your home are dangers that can take lives and destroy property.
This brochure will help you focus attention on the dangers of fire, smoke and carbon monoxide.
Thousands of people die from fire every year in this country. Most residential fire deaths occur because of inhalation of toxic gas, rather than contact with the flames. The tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented by taking a few precautions.
General Fire Prevention Tips
Have an Emergency Escape Plan! Practice it frequently!
Partly because of efforts by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and local fire departments, many jurisdictions require smoke alarms for homes and businesses. Through education and media campaigns, most people now realize the importance of smoke alarms, and most homes in America have them.
To guard against small fires or to keep a small fire from developing into a big one, every home should be equipped with fire extinguisher. Because almost all fires are small at first, they might be contained if a fire extinguisher is handy and used properly. You should take care, however, to select the right kind of fire extinguisher, because there are different ones for different kinds of fires. Install fire extinguishers on every level of the home and include the kitchen, basement and garage.
Selecting a Fire Extinguisher
Extinguishers are classified according to the class of fire for which they are suitable. The four classes of fires are A, B, C, D:
One of the greatest threats to your safety is the quality of air within your home. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a subtle yet dangerous threat because the gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless.
Each year, more than two hundred people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Thousands of other people suffer the effects of the gas without realizing it. Because CO symptoms mimic the flu and other common illnesses, CO poisoning can be easily missed during a routine medical examination.
CO is produced when any fuel does not burn completely because of insufficient oxygen. Mild exposure to CO gives most people a slight headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue ("flu-like" symptoms) followed by a throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, and fast heart rate. If the entire family becomes ill after a few hours in the home, and feels better when they leave the home, carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected.
Possible sources of CO include:
Certain clues can indicate a carbon monoxide problem. Check to see if you have any of the following:
CO can be produced and spill into your home without any of the preceding clues present. Heating appliances that appear to be operating correctly can still be sources of CO. Burning charcoal or wood produces CO that can spill into the home. Gasoline engines, when first started, produce large amounts of CO. Autos in attached garages are often sources of CO.
How To Protect Yourself
To avoid CO exposure in the home, it is important to:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that every residence with fuel-burning appliances be equipped with at least one UL-listed CO alarm. For added protection, place one on every level of the home. Read and follow manufacturers' instructions. If your alarm indicates high levels of carbon monoxide in your home:
Fires are traumatizing and frightening, as is a carbon monoxide incident. It is essential to fully recognize the hazards of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning and to take preventative action. A regular home inspection, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers and an emergency exit plan will help you and your family live more safely.
This brochure is based on content from SAFETY AND YOU by the Honorable Nancy Harvey Steorts, former Chairman of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. The illustration on the front cover is the front cover of SAFETY AND YOU. For copies of SAFETY AND YOU, please contact Syracuse University Press at 1-800-365-8929.
This brochure is published as a public service by Kidde Safety in cooperation with the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. It may be reproduced for educational, nonprofit purposes. For additional information on fire safety, contact your County Extension office listed under the County Government in your local telephone directory, or visit www.usfa.fema.gov/safety
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