Disasters can be natural or man-made. Wild Fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and thunder and lightning are examples of natural disasters. Manmade disasters range from accidental fires in the home to terrorism. Here in Syracuse, fires are the most common personal disaster.
In the United States, there are many organizations dedicated to helping communities such as AmeriCorps and the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross depends on volunteers to create and carry out programs needed to help prepare and train people. We need people, like you and me, to contribute expertise, time and availability to prepare communities before a disaster. When people know what to do, everyone is better able to handle emergency situations.
(To volunteer with the American Red Cross of Central New York, go to our website (www.redcrosscny.org) and complete a volunteer application. Send the application to the chapter at 220 Herald Place, Syracuse, NY13202.)
What follows are tips to help you prevent household fires.
Prepare your Home
• Install a smoke detector in the output of each bedroom and on every floor of your home.
• If you sleep with the doors closed, also install smoke detectors in the bedrooms.
• Press the test button once a month to check the operation of each detector.
• Batteries should be changed once a year.
• Dust and vacuum the cobwebs from each smoke detector monthly.
• Consider having one or more fire extinguishers in your home, local firefighters can teach you how to use them.
• Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
• Keep candles away from the fabric, do not leave candles unattended. Do not overload extension cords or outlet.
• You must be in the house while cooking. This includes boiling (even at low heat).
• Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
• Bake or broil. Check food regularly and use a timer to remember you’re cooking.
• Keep flammable items such as potholders, towels and plastic material things, away from the stove in the kitchen.
• Ensure that pets are not on the cooking surfaces or on the table so that no objects overturnon the burners.
Plan your Exit Routes
• Pick two exits from each room of your house.
• Have escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor and learn to use them; place them near windows.
• In case of fire, do not use the elevator, take the stairs.
• Choose a place outside your home where everyone can meet after escaping.
• Practice your escape plan twice a year.
Avoid Injuries during a Fire
• When you’re out, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
• If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, get low under the smoke and head to the exit.
• If you are escaping through a closed door, put your hand to the door before opening it. If you feel heat, use your second way out.
• If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay where you are and close the door. Send distress signals using a piece of brightly colored cloth from the window. If there is a phone, use it to call the fire department and tell them where you are.
• If the fire is at night have a flashlight so you can see if there is no light.
• If you see smoke coming through the bottom of the door, put a wet towel down and stay away from the door.
Are you ready for a fire? Fires are one of the most common personal disasters. They cause more deaths than any other type of disaster. However, the fire should not be fatal if you listen to your smoke detector and all family members know the fire safety plan. Please take the responsibility to plan and rehearse what to do in case of fire.
For more information, contact your local Red Cross or fire department in your area.
- American Red Cross of Central New York: (315) 234-2200
- Syracuse Fire Department: (315) 473-5525
You can also visit the following websites: