What should I do to be prepared for a house fire?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Almost all fatal fires occur in a home with no smoke alarm, because the #1 threat from a fire is not heat or flames, but smoke, which can suffocate you in minutes. Follow this guide to get out quickly and safely.

• Smoke detectors: Check with your local fire marshall to learn the laws about how many you must have. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends having one in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every floor. Change batteries twice a year when you change your clocks.

• Fire extinguishers: Like smoke detectors, the more, the better, but the NFPA advises that they should only be used for small, contained fires. To use, pull the pin, stand back, and spray in sweeping motions over a large area.
• Escape ladders: Every bedroom above the first floor should have a folding escape ladder. They're inexpensive, but fire departments often give them out to families who can't afford them.

• Home escape plan: Create a floor plan with all doors, windows, and escape ladder locations clearly marked. Convene a family meeting twice a year to review the floor plan, practice turning the thermostat off while blindfolded (AC systems feed fires and spread smoke), and discuss your escape plan.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.