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There are several ways you can ready your home before an emergency threatens your safe place. 

  • Fire Readiness 

    • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room.

    • Know the basics of fire chemistry and behavior, including what it takes to stop it and when it’s time to run. 

      • A fire needs three things to burn: oxygen, heat and fuel, commonly known as “the fire triangle.” Remove one of the triangle’s legs, and you won’t have fire. 

      • Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.

      • Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.

      • Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.

      • Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gasses kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gasses that make you disoriented and drowsy.

      • ALWAYS call 911 before you attempt to fight a small fire, which is the only size you should be attempting to stop.  

      • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy. 

    • Maintain working smoke alarms. 

      • Replace batteries twice a year (daylight saving time changes could be good reminder), unless you are using 10-year lithium batteries.

      • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.

      • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.

      • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

      • Audible alarms are available for visually impaired people and smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired.

    • Keep appropriate fire extinguishers on hand, and know how to use them. 

      • There are several types made for extinguishing specific types of fires. 

        • Class A: Wood, paper, textiles, most plastics 

        • Class B: Flammable liquids, oil, gas and grease 

        • Class C: Electrical, energized electrical equipment 

        • Class D: Chemical and combustible metals 

        • Class K: Kitchen fires, such as vegetable oils, animal oils or fats 

      • Fire blankets can also be used to wrap someone up who has caught fire or easily smother other small fires. 

  • Earthquake Readiness 

    • Secure heavy items in your home like bookcases, refrigerators, water heaters, televisions and objects that hang on walls to wall studs with anchors. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves, and remove items from above your bed. 

    • Consider making improvements to your home to fix structural issues that could cause your home to collapse during an earthquake.

    • Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover earthquake damage.

  • Flood Readiness 

    • Know your flood risk. 

      • Look up your address in the Flood Map Service Center to learn if you live, work, or travel in areas that are prone to flooding, or ask your local officials. 

    • Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Do an annual “insurance check-up” with your agent to make sure you have the right coverage and amounts of coverage.

    • Elevate and anchor your critical utilities, including electrical panels, propane tanks, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems. 

    • Waterproof your basement. Install a water alarm and maintain a working sump pump to protect your basement. Install a battery-operated backup pump in case of power failure. 

    • Keep drains, gutters and downspouts clear of debris. 

    • When flooding is predicted or imminent, move furniture and valuables to a safe place, such as an attic or the highest floor of your home. 

Last Modified on Jan 02, 2024
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