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Check that your home is properly fitted with working smoke detectors in at least every bedroom.
- This is one of the most important safety measures you can take. Three-fifths of all home fire deaths occur in a property without working smoke alarms. Functional alarms cut the risk of dying in half.
- If you do not already have alarms installed, you may be eligible to receive them for free. Any DC homeowner may schedule a free installation by the DC Fire and EMS Department at this site. Additionally, any residents of the National Capitol Region who either cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or may have physical difficulty installing them can request the same service from the American Red Cross here.
- You should check your alarms once a month, change the batteries once or twice a year, and fully replace the unit once every ten. If you have difficulty remembering to change the batteries, the start and end of Daylight Saving Time can be a helpful reminder. If you are unable to check your alarm or change the batteries yourself, the organizations listed above will also schedule maintenance checks from their websites.
Make sure you have easy access to a fire extinguisher, particularly from the kitchen.
- During the five year period mentioned above, 48% of home fires were caused by cooking equipment. Having an extinguisher on hand greatly reduces the risk of serious damage.
- Familiarize yourself with how to properly use it; during an emergency you will likely not have time to read the instructions.
Make an emergency escape plan.
- This is an important step even if you live alone. Know how to quickly and safely exit your building and contact the fire department. Remember: do not risk reentering the building to recover belongings, as even a seemingly small fire can cause structural damage.
- If you live with others, discuss your escape plan. Establish a location to meet once safely away from the fire. If you have children this is especially necessary, and creates a convenient opportunity to teach them the basics of fire safety.
Have a professional perform a safety check or clear any obvious fire hazards yourself.
- Call the number (202) 673-3331 to have the DC Fire and EMS Department perform a courtesy safety inspection of your home, or call (202) 727-1614 for an inspection of another residential dwelling.
- Keep a safety-oriented mindset. Reorganize any overloaded power outlets, keep loose fabric away from areas with open flame, and empty your dryer lint tray regularly. Awareness is the first step to prevention!
It can be hard to find peace and closure after a catastrophic event like a home fire. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in such an event, Regan Zambri Long PLLC is here to fight for the justice you deserve. Call us or follow this link for a free consultation today.