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  • Home Security and Fire Safety

Sometimes, families seeking to protect themselves from one hazard unknowingly put themselves at risk from others. For example, home security can protect people from intruders, but it can also be harmful if security features prevent quick escape during a fire emergency. Home security and fire safety can and should work together and you need to examine entryways, both doors and windows, to make sure home security doesn't interfere with your fire escape plan.

  • Security Locks

Every home entry door should be equipped with a sturdy dead-bolt lock that is properly installed and maintained in good working condition. When choosing deadbolt locks for your home, keep the following guidelines in mind.

  • Avoid two-keyed deadbolt locks that require a key on both the inside and outside of an entry door. These keyed locks can trap people inside if there is a fire. Keys can easily be misplaced when the deadbolt is locked, making it impossible to escape.

  • Replace any two-keyed entry locks with common deadbolt locks that only require keyed entry from the outside and have a turning or "throwing" bolt or latch inside.

  • If your home entry doors have two-keyed deadbolt locks, protect your family in the meantime by keeping the key to your deadbolt on a hook near the door but away from any windows. Make sure all responsible family members know exactly where to find the key and how to use it quickly in an emergency.

  • Window Security/Burglar Bars

Security bars on doors and windows can provide a strong defense against intruders and give families greater confidence in their home's safety. However that same strength can prove deadly in a fire emergency. Bars welded over an escape route not only trap victims inside; they also prevent firefighters from being able to get them out. Families need to evaluate their fire escape route to make sure security measures do not hinder a quick escape.

Bars on doors and windows can provide a strong defense against intruders and give families greater confidence in their home's security. However that same strength can prove deadly in a fire emergency. New research shows that home fires grow so fast and spread so quickly that people may three minutes or less to survive a fire and its deadly smoke. Bars welded over an escape route not only trap victims inside; they also prevent firefighters from being able to get them out. Families are urged to make sure security measures do not slow down a quick escape:

  • In rooms with window bars, install a quick-release mechanism on at least one exit.

  • Purchase quick-release devices together with new bars, or have them installed on bars that are currently in your home.

  • In an emergency you can use the release device to quickly unlock the bars from inside, usually with a lever or pedal, to make your escape path clear for immediate exit.

  • Know that quick-release devices can only be opened from the inside of the home, and do not affect your home's security.

  • Contact an iron contractor to have quick-release devices installed on security bars in your home.

 

  • Developing a Fire Escape Plan

Fire is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the home; but by being prepared to handle this emergency, you can help your family safely exit your home in the event of a fire. Fire safety and survival begins with everyone in your household being prepared. In the year studied, The State of Home Safety in America report found that only 54 percent of families with children have discussed what to do in case of a home fire. Use the following guidelines for developing a home fire escape plan:

  • Early warning is a key element of your fire escape plan. Every home needs working smoke alarms on each story and protecting every place that people sleep. Install additional smoke alarms inside all sleeping rooms.

  • Sketch out a floor plan of your home, including all rooms, windows, interior and exterior doors, stairways, fire escapes and smoke alarms. Make sure that every family member is familiar with the layout.

  • Identify and remedy anything in your home that could possibly interfere with your ability to get out quickly in an emergency, such as windows that are stuck or heavy furniture blocking an exit.

  • You need a primary and secondary exit. If you have a multi-story home, consider if you need to purchase fire escape ladders for upstairs bedrooms. If so, they should be part of your fire drill, deployed safely from a ground-floor window for practice.

  • Push the "test button" on a smoke alarm to ensure everyone will recognize the sound of the alarm if it goes off.

  • Select two escape routes from each room and mark them clearly on the plan.

  • Ensure that family members with special needs, such as someone who is ill or frail, or small children, have a buddy to help them get out safely. If anyone in the household has a hearing impairment, purchase special smoke alarms that use strobes and/or vibrations to signal a fire.

  • Designate a place to meet outside so that everyone can be accounted and someone can be assigned to go to a neighbor's to call 911.

  • Make copies of the escape plan sketches and post them in each room until everyone becomes familiar with them.

  • Practice makes perfect. Every second counts during a real fire. Hold family fire drills frequently and at various times until the escape plans become second nature. Once you've mastered the escape process, hold a drill when family members are sleeping so you can test each family member's ability to waken and respond to the smoke alarm.

  • Young children are especially susceptible to heavy sleeping and may not awaken. If any family member does not waken on his or her own during the drill, assign a buddy to help them waken and escape in future fire drills and in a real fire emergency.

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