Safety & emergency preparedness

Fire

Fire spreads quickly. If fire breaks out in your home, there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life threatening. In five minutes, your home can be up in flames. Be prepared for a fire before it starts.

Prepare for a fire

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairways, and at the bottom of stairways that are closed-in between two walls.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries twice a year. Make it a habit when you reset your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.
  • Replace your smoke alarms once every 10 years.
  • Plan and review your home escape routes with your family. Practice getting out of each room.
  • Check that windows are not nailed or painted shut. If you have security gratings or burglar bars on windows, make sure they have a fire safety opening feature and can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Think about getting escape ladders if your home has more than one level.
  • Teach your family to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer) when getting away from a fire.
  • Put A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Make sure your home is insured. If you rent, consider buying renter’s insurance.
  • Put heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire. Be very careful when using temporary heating sources like space heaters.

Survive a fire

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you confused and sleepy.

  • If a smoke detector goes off or if you notice a fire, stay calm. Get out as quickly as possible and stay out.
  • Don’t try to fight a major fire.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll over and back to smother the flames.
  • Review your high-rise evacuation plan if you work in a high-rise office building in Center City or University City. If there’s a fire, don’t  use the elevator. If there’s smoke in the hallway, go back to your apartment or office and call 9-1-1 for instructions.
  • Before opening a door, feel it with the back of your hand. If it’s hot, find another way out.
  • Find another way out if you see smoke under the door,
  • Stay as close to the floor as possible. Smoke and heat rise and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
  • Close all doors behind you.
  • Don’t stop to get anything.
  • Don’t use elevators.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place such as a neighbor’s house.
  • Stay near a window and close to the floor if you cannot get out of a room. Close the door and stuff the bottom with a towel to keep out smoke.
  • Signal for help by waving a cloth or sheet outside the window, if you can.

For more fire safety information, visit the Philadelphia Fire Department website.

Barbecue grill safety

The City of Philadelphia has rules  around barbecue grill use to keep you safe. For example, propane and charcoal grills must only be used outdoors. Never use these grills indoors, or in any enclosed spaces like tents. Grills are a fire hazard and can expose you to deadly carbon monoxide. BBQ grills aren’t allowed on decks, porches, or balconies of one and two family houses and apartment buildings.

Also remember to:

  • Keep the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and walkways. Grills should be at least 10 feet away from siding, deck railing, and out from under leaves and overhanging branches.
  • Never keep spare propane cylinders under or near a grill, or inside the home.
  • Do not move propane cylinders in a passenger vehicle.
  • Keep matches, lighters, and starter fluid out of the reach of children and in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Children should never be allowed to use outdoor cooking equipment.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.
  • Use long BBQ mitts and long-handled grilling tools to protect the chef from heat and flames.
  • Turn off valves when not in use.
  • Remove grease/fat buildup in the trays below the grill. This buildup can catch on fire.
  • Burners, tubing, and piping should be clean and free from insects, dust, and debris so they won’t explode.
  • Purchase a grill with a safety seal from an independent testing lab.

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