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  • Press Release

Planning and prevention: the keys to fire safety

October 4, 2010

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Oct. 4, 2010 - In the blink of an eye, a small cooking or candle fire can turn into a destructive or deadly blaze, so stopping fires before they start is a family's first line of defense against potential fire-related injuries. In recognition of the National Fire Protection Association's Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3-9, 2010), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) - the leading product safety organization - is providing five simple tips that you can do today to help protect your family from fire, starting with a smoke alarm audit.

Smoke alarms have cut the number of fire-related deaths in the home by more than 60 percent since they became widely available for home use in the 1970s. Despite the evidence that smoke alarms save lives, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths from 2003-2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.1

"Due to the large amount of synthetic materials used in modern home construction, today's fires spread at a faster pace and pose a greater risk to families," said John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratories. "That's why now, more than ever, families need to properly install and maintain smoke alarms throughout the home so they can be protected in the event of a fire."

With the fast spreading nature of the modern home fire, families are also left with less time to safely escape their homes. To make every second count, it is necessary to review fire safety tips with all members of the family before an emergency occurs.

"It's not difficult to prepare for a home fire, but it's absolutely critical to keeping your family safe," Drengenberg said. "Reviewing fire safety tips with your kids and having a fire escape plan are necessary components of being prepared. We're asking parents to provide their children with the guidance, resources and skills to make the right choices in the event of a fire."


This Fire Prevention Week, UL is helping families wade through the abundant amount of available fire safety information by highlighting on five simple things you can do today to protect your family from fire:

1.       Conduct a smoke alarm audit

  • Install at least one UL-listed smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Check placement: Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be located on a ceiling or high on a wall.
  • Test smoke alarms weekly and replace batteries twice a year and make sure you can hear alarms in every room of the house, even with the doors closed.
  • Make sure that your kids know what the alarms sound like.
  • Replace alarms that are older than 10 years or that have been painted over.


2.       Make extinguishers handy

  • Check the gauge located on the extinguisher to see if it needs to be replaced or recharged.
  • Be sure that you have at least one or more UL listed ABC-type fire extinguishers in your home.
  • Remember that fire extinguishers are not designed to fight large or spreading fires and that your number one priority is to have an escape plan and to get out safely.
  • Read the directions and familiarize yourself with the use of your extinguisher now, before you're in the midst of an actual emergency.

3.       Talk prevention with your kids

  • Talk to your kids about how they can prevent fires as children under age five are especially curious about fire and need to start learning about the tremendous danger. All kids should know:
  • Never play with matches, lighters or candles.
  • Never play with electrical cords and never put anything in a socket.
  • Blankets or clothes should never be thrown on top of lamps.
  • Don't turn up a heater without a grown-up's permission.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.

4.       Look at your home from your child's perspective

  • Think about how your child sees potential fire hazards in your home by getting down on your hands and knees with them and taking a look around.
  • If you see any potential hazards, such as dangling cords, make adjustments to your home according to what you find.

5.       Avoid overloading sockets and cords

  • Do a walk-through of your home, and if you see sockets with too many cords plugged in or even too many extension cords around the house, it may be time to have extra outlets installed by a professional.
  • Always pay attention to the acceptable wattage for cords and lamps and look for extension cords that are "tacked up" or run under a rug as these could be a real fire hazard for kids and adults.
  • Dens and nurseries are particularly susceptible to overloaded outlets. Never plug something in unsafely "just this once" or "until I get another power strip tomorrow."

Additional resources and family activities are available on -  including an easy-to-executive fire safety checklist and certificate - to raise awareness of home safety.