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Fires happen, and that's a fact. And because they do, you and your family need to be prepared in order to face such an emergency in your home. Follow these basic guidelines and be prepared in case this type of disaster happens to you:

Step #1
A. Purchase and Install Smoke Detectors: Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement and in the attic. They are most effective when they are installed above key doorways as well as in stairways. Smoke detectors are not generally costly, and are very easy to install.

B. After you install your new smoke detector, it would be wise to perform tests on each one of them to ensure they are working properly. Smoke detectors usually have a "test button." To use this button, you simply push it in and wait for the alarm to sound. If the alarm does not sound, check the batteries, as this is normally the cause of the malfunction. If the batteries are fully charged, then your unit is faulty and needs to be replaced. It is also recommended that you replace the batteries in each smoke detector every year, whether they are low in voltage or not. This way, you can be reasonably sure that your smoke detectors will work properly, protecting you and your family, when it is needed.

Step #2
A. If you don't already own one, a small fire extinguisher placed in the kitchen area would be a wise piece of equipment to invest in. Many fires start in the kitchen due to cooking foodstuff being left unattended on the stove. And, small fires can easily turn into big fires in a moment's notice. The fire extinguisher should be an "all purpose" type, rated "ABC."

B. It's most important that you know how to properly use your fire extinguisher. First, remain as calm and collected as you possibly can. Next, pull the pin and aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Spray back and forth in a sweeping motion until the fire is completely extinguished. Later, you will need to take the extinguisher and have it recharged for future use.

C. In case you don't own a fire extinguisher, you can use water to put out a wood, paper, plastic, or cloth-fueled fire. Small grease fire may also be smothered out using flour or baking soda.

D. Do not ever attempt to extinguish an electrical fire by using water. You can easily be electrocuted.

Step #3
A. Make a Fire Evacuation Plan: In the event a fire should break out in your home, you and your family need to know how to escape in the quickest
yet, most organized manner possible. You and your family need to sit down and write out a feasible plan of action, and then, practice it over and over on a regular basis.

B. The main thing you and your family need to decide is what the primary escape route will be. This would be the quickest way to escape your home in case of a fire. Next, you will need to decide on a secondary escape route in case you cannot use the primary route. A tip-Remember to-and instruct your family members to-stay as low as possible to the floor in order to avoid inhaling smoke.

C. You will also need to decide on a "gathering place". This is the designated spot you and your family will go after everyone has safely exited the burning structure. The purpose of the designated spot is so you can make sure that everyone got out safely, and that they are accounted for.

D. If your home is a two-story structure, or higher, you should purchase a fire ladder. These are used by attaching the top hooks to the windowsill, then lowering the remainder of the ladder down the outside of the house. These are used, of course, for safely escaping out of upstairs windows. Fire ladders are sometimes made of heavy-duty rope. They can be rolled-up and stored in a small place.

Even though you can't always prevent a fire from happening in your home, you can follow these simple guidelines and dramatically decrease the risk of injury which could occur to you and your family in the case of a fire. After all, material possessions can be replaced, but human lives cannot.