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Fire Safety Tips Minimize

This section of our website lists Fire Safety Tips.

Escape Plan

Statistics show that at some point, every American will be affected by fire at one time or another. The key to surviving a fire is having a plan to get out.

But it's not enough to just have an escape plan. The plan must be second nature. You must be able to execute the plan--literally--with your eyes closed. You must be able to execute the plan after coming out of a sound sleep. And you must be able to execute the plan without knowing what other members of your family might be doing.

That's why the Mackinaw City Fire Department supports the use of EDITH and DAN. EDITH stands for Exit Drills In The Home, and DAN stands for Drills At Night.

Every family should have an escape plan. But how difficult is it to come up with a plan? The truth is, it's not very difficult at all. The basic principle is to know two ways out of every room in your home.

You must know two ways out of every room--because you can't be sure in a fire that your preferred escape route will be clear.

For most rooms in your home, the first way out would be the normal means of exiting--out the door. But if you're in a bedroom and there's too much smoke in the hallway to even see, you'll need to be prepared to go out of the window. If you're on a second story, you'll need to make sure you have a rope ladder or something similar stored somewhere close to that window for easy access.

Planning Tips

  • Draw a map of your home, with two ways out of every room. Include landmarks on the map. Make a copy for every room and store them in easy-to-remember places. Memorize the map.
  • Arrange a meeting place in advance. Make sure everybody knows where to meet in the event of a fire. Firefighters will need to know if everybody is out of the house before they decide on the best course of action. It'll also bring you peace of mind to know that everybody is together.
  • Additional planning should be done to plan for the escape of a disabled person, infant or anybody else that can't get around without help that lives in your home.
  • If you live in a apartment, consult your building manager or the fire department to get help with a plan.

Having a plan doesn't do any good if you can't execute it in an emergency. For that reason, it's recommended that you practice your plan every six months. You should also practice your plan occasionally at night.
Don't forget to practice both ways out of each room--even if that includes using your rope ladder or other device. A fire in the middle of the night is no time to be trying something for the first time.

You might also want to--after you've become familiar with your escape routes--close your eyes or wear a blindfold and feel your way about your home (with supervision, of course!). After all, your home will look very different if it's filled with smoke. Being able to know where you are in your home without seeing could be a lifesaver in an emergency situation.

Time your drills. You should be able to get out of your home as quickly as possible. In some cases, a house can burn down in less than five minutes--so every second counts.

Always remember to be safe when practicing

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers aren't for everybody to use. They are only to be used if you're encountered with a small fire. You should also be an adult--and only then use one IF you know how to use it.

But don't put your extinguisher in a place that will take time to get to or find. That time spent searching or digging will allow the fire time to spread and become unmanageable for the extinguisher you want to use.

Extinguisher Types
Generally for home use, there are three classes of extinguishers--A, B and C.

Class A extinguishers are labeled with a green triangle. These devices contain water, and can be used to put out wood, cloth or paper that has ignited.

Class B extinguishers are labeled with a red square. Class B extinguishers are used to put out flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paint. You can also use a

Class B on a grease fire in a kitchen.

Class C extinguishers are labeled with a blue circle. These extinguishers are to be used on live electrical equipment--including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.

Don't use Class A (Water) Extinguishers on grease or electrical fires!
Multipurpose fire extinguishers with an A-B-C label may be used on all three types of fires.

A red slash through any of the symbols indicates you shouldn't use that extinguisher on that class of fire. A missing symbol tells you that the extinguisher hasn't been tested on that class of fire.

When to Use Them
Don't forget, fire extinguishers aren't made to do the job of a firefighter. If a fire is too hot or starting to spread--get out of the house!

Only use a fire extinguisher if:

  • You are an adult
  • You know how to operate it
  • You are certain it's in working order
  • It is readily accessible
  • You have a clear escape route in case the fire spreads
  • The extinguisher class matches the class of fire you're fighting
  • The extinguisher is large enough to handle the fire

Some extinguishers are made to last only about 10 seconds. The label should tell you how long the device will last against a particular kind of fire.

How to Use Them
The National Fire Protection Association has devised an acronym to help you remember how to use a fire extinguisher: PASS. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.

Pull the Pin - The pin unlocks the handle and lets you discharge the extinguisher. But some devices have different handle-release mechanisms. Be sure you're familiar with your extinguisher.

Aim Low - Point the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire. That's where the fire's fuel is--spraying the tops of the flames won't do any good.

Squeeze the Lever - Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever, but this is how you discharge the water or chemicals inside the extinguisher. Releasing the handle or button stops the stream.

Sweep the Base of the Fire from Side to Side - Carefully move toward the fire as you move the stream from one side of the fire to the other. Keep the stream aimed at the base of the fire. Sweep from side to side until the fire is out. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.

Remember, if a fire starts to get out of control, or your extinguisher runs out before the fire is out--get out and call 911!

Heating Safety

According to the State Fire Marshall's Office, more residential fires are started across the country by the things we use to keep us warm. Fireplaces, wood burning stoves, space heaters, and kerosene lamps pose special threats to safety, especially when used improperly.

The following tips should help you avoid a dangerous situation.

  •  Put at least 3 feet of space between any heat source and anything that is flammable.
  • Have a bucket of sand or water or a fire extinguisher near your fireplace.
  • Don't store kindling or matches near your fireplace.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Use a sturdy metal or glass screen in front of your fireplace.
  • Never dispose of fireplace ashes in a plastic container or paper sack. Use only a metal container with a tight-fitting lid, and only dispose of ashes after they have cooled.
  • Watch for frayed or hot wires on your space heater--if the wires are damaged, don not use the unit.
  • Don't let children--especially toddlers or infants--near a heater.
  • If you're using a liquid fuel heater, don't add more fuel until the unit has cooled down.
  • Never use gasoline as a heater fuel.
  • Never use substitute or low-grade fuels in heaters.
  • When using a kerosene heater or portable generator, be sure the unit has adequate ventilation.

Seasonal Safety Tips

Summer Safety Tips
Don’t play with fireworks! Even those so-called "safe" sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit! Leave fireworks displays to the professionals.

  • Keep your grill a safe distance from houses, garages and overhangs.
  • Use only properly labeled starter fluid--never substitute gasoline or kerosene!
  • Never apply fire starter to a smoldering fire. Instead, add dry kindling and blow gently across the coals.
  • Never leave outdoor cooking unattended!
  • After a party, check your trash for carelessly discarded smoking materials.
  • Never refuel a lawnmower or other motor-operated apparatus while it is still running.
  • Be sure to use the proper fuel or fuel mixture in your lawnmower or trimmer-never substitute kerosene, propane or a low-grade fuel.
  • Never leave children to swim without adult supervision.
  • Do not operate a lawnmower, boat, personal watercraft or go swimming if you have had too much alcohol to drink.

Fall Safety Tips
If you plan to decorate your yard with straw, hay, or corn stalks please make sure it is placed away from your home and away from any fire source.

Make sure your Halloween costume is not flammable. Check the tag to make sure it is okay. If you're not sure, don not buy or wear it. That includes any make-up, wigs or glue-on effects, such as scars, warts or fingernails.

If you plan to burn a candle in a carved pumpkin, do it outside on cement. Be sure to check it periodically. Extinguish the candle if you go to bed or leave the house.
Carry a flashlight when you trick-or-treat.

Do not go near open flames while you are wearing your costume, especially if it has a lot of material to it.

If you are wearing a long wig, try not to smoke while you are wearing it.

Winter Safety Tips
Just because it is winter, it does not mean you should let your guard down against fires. Be especially careful during the holidays to ensure your tree or decorations are at least 3 feet away from any heat source. After the holidays, please be cautious of other fire hazards during the winter months.

Senior Safety Tips

Make sure you have an escape plan with two ways out of every room.

Always pay attention to smoke alarms.

In case of fire, get out immediately!

Test doors and knobs before opening.

If there's smoke, stay low!

Never use an elevator during a fire!

Have a safe meeting place arranged in advance.

If there is no way out, block door cracks with towels or blankets to keep out smoke.

Open the window to let in fresh air--but if more smoke appears, close the window.

When you hear fire trucks, hang a sheet out the window.

If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL!

Keep halls, stairs and doorways free of clutter.

Keep the following items near your bed at night:

  • Keys
  • Walker
  • Eyeglasses
  • Flashlight
  • Hearing aids
  • Phone list
  • Whistle or bell
  • Telephone

Never go back into a burning building!

Smoke Detectors

It is a documented fact--smoke detectors save lives. The majority of fatal home fires occur at night, when the victims are sleeping. Many people think they will be awakened by the smell of smoke, but the truth is, the smoke and gasses from a fire actually put people in a deeper sleep. Victims often die from the smoke and fumes long before the fire reaches them.

But how can you be sure you have the right kind of device? How do you know if it is placed in the right part of your house? How do you know if it is even working? After all, it is estimated that about one-third of all residential smoke detectors in the United States are not functioning properly. And with an estimated 2-million residential fires occurring every year in the U. S., it is important to make sure yours is not one of the broken ones.

Types of Smoke Detectors
Ionization Smoke Detectors - These devices sound an alarm when smoke reduces the electric current within the unit. An ionization detector also picks up both visible and invisible particles from smoke and fire.

Photoelectric Smoke Detectors - In a photoelectric alarm, there is a tiny beam of light within the unit. The alarm sounds when that beam becomes blocked by smoke particles.

There are also detectors that combine the methods used in ionization and photoelectric devices. First Alert also makes a detector that comes with a silencer, which will allow you to shut the unit off for up to three minutes during a false alarm.

These new alarms are made for use in the kitchen, where there might be an inordinate amount of non-threatening smoke due to cooking.

Whatever kind of smoke detector you decide on be sure that it is certified by either Underwriters' Laboratories or Factory Mutual. These groups are the most nationally prominent product testing organizations. The certification seal should appear somewhere on the outside of the box, and on the unit itself if you want to check an existing one.

A/C vs. D/C - You will also have to decide whether to get a battery-operated unit or one that's hooked up to your home's electrical system. Both types have advantages and disadvantages.

With an electrical alarm, the advantage is that you never have to worry about the battery going dead between tests--and you'll never have to worry about changing the battery every year. Aside from monthly testing, there is relatively little maintenance. But the disadvantage is that the alarm will not work if your power is out. And if a fire has shorted out your electrical system before the alarm sounds, the detector will not be able to alert you.
A battery-operated unit takes care of the power problem. If your power goes out because of a fire, it will still be able to function. But that is assuming the battery works! The disadvantage to a battery-operated alarm is that it must be checked more often to make sure it is operating properly. It is recommended that you check a battery-operated unit weekly, and change the batteries every six months.

You can also find an electrical unit with a battery backup, but those will be the most expensive.

Where you put your smoke detector is almost as important as making sure they are working. It is recommended that you have an alarm on every level of your house, including the basement and attic.

You should also have units inside each bedroom, and in the hallway outside the sleeping area.

Fire loves stairways--there is lots of fuel and oxygen in a stairway. Therefore you should place a detector at the bottom of each stairwell in your home.

You should also place a detector near spaces where fires might break out--like a workbench or laundry room.

Even if you live in a one-level home, you should have a minimum of two smoke detectors.

Walls vs. Ceilings - Smoke detectors should be placed on ceilings whenever possible, at least four inches away from the nearest wall. If you have a pitched or cathedral ceiling, the alarm should placed at or near the ceiling's highest point. But wherever you put them, make sure they are AWAY from ceiling fans or air ducts. You do not want anything that might push smoke away from the unit.

If you mount the smoke detector on the wall, it should be between 6 and 12 inches below the ceiling.

Try to keep smoke detectors away from bathrooms that might let out a lot of steam when the door is opened after a hot shower. The steam can produce false alarms.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that about one-third of all residential smoke detectors in the United States do not work properly. To make sure you do not have one of those malfunctioning units, follow these useful tips:

  • Test your detector - Experts recommend that you should run a test of every detector in your house anywhere from once a week to once a month. All units should have an easily-accessible test button.
  • Check your batteries! - You should check your batteries every six months, and change them every year. A good rule of thumb is to check the batteries when you turn your clocks ahead in the spring, and then change the batteries when you turn your clocks back in the fall. If a battery is starting to lose its power, the unit will usually chirp to warn you.
  • Do not ignore false alarms! - Smoke detectors do not just sound for no reason. If your unit seems to have more than its share of unfounded false alarms, replace it.
  • Keep your detectors clean - At least once a year, vacuum or blow out any dust that might accumulate inside the unit and in the slats on the outside cover.
  • NEVER borrow a battery - NEVER borrow a battery from an alarm to use somewhere else. You might forget to replace it, or the battery might get worn down faster from the other appliance.
  • NEVER paint a smoke detector - Painting a unit can block the vents in the cover, preventing smoke from getting to the sensors.
  • Replace your smoke detectors - Replace your smoke detectors every ten years.

Snow Blowers/Lawn Mowers

Gasoline snow blowers and riding mowers offer lots of convenience. But there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to operating these machines safely:

  • Never refuel a snow blower or mower while it is running
  • Never use substitute or low-grade fuels
  • Do not smoke while refueling
  • Do not warm up a blower or mower in a closed garage
  • Have your blower or mower inspected before each season
  • Take plenty of breaks when operating equipment


Village of Mackinaw City
102 South Huron - PO Box 580 Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Phone: 231-436-5351 - Fax: 231-436-4166 

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