Practice fire safety in your home, because there's no worse time to realize that your fire extinguisher is on the fritz than during an actual fire.
Step 1: Install and check smoke alarms Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, and test their batteries monthly. Change the batteries annually, even if they're still working, to make sure they're always at full strength.
Step 2: Install fire extinguishers Contact your local fire department to learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher. Once you've been trained, install fire extinguishers on each level of your home, and follow the directions to check their pressure level and parts five or six times a year to make sure they're working.
Step 3: Keep ladder on 2nd floor If you have a second floor, keep an emergency ladder that you can use to exit through the windows in an easily accessible location.
Step 4: Check windows Check the windows periodically to make sure you can open them easily. Never paint them shut.
Step 5: Agree on a signal Meet with the members of your household to formulate a plan in case of fire. Agree on a signal you will use to alert each other in case of fire.
TIP: Your agreed-upon signal should be loud and distinctive, one that everyone will quickly understand to mean, "Fire!" This could be a bell, whistle, or air horn that you keep alongside the fire extinguishers you've installed around your home.
Step 6: Plan routes Plan possible escape routes. It's best to create a diagram that illustrates the best possible routes out of your home. The best escape plans include two escape routes for each room: one through a door, and the other through a window to an adjacent roof or fire escape.
TIP: If you have bars over the windows or doors included in your escape plan, make sure they have quick-release devices, and familiarize yourself with how they work so you can unlatch them quickly if you need to.
Step 7: Learn high-rise routes If you live in a high-rise building, there should be escape routes posted in a common area. Take the time to familiarize yourself with these escape routes and exits.
Step 8: Designate someone to help Designate one or more people to be responsible for evacuating infants and young children, the elderly, pets, or anyone else requiring assistance. Senior citizens should consider sleeping on the first level of the home for easier escape.
Step 9: Secure easy call for help Make sure you have a quick way to call for help. Clearly post all emergency numbers in a prominent spot near each phone in your home, and program your local fire department's direct number into your cell phone.
FACT: Although two-thirds of American households have a fire-escape plan, only about a third of those have practiced it.