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Safety Tips


Click on the links below for information on how to keep you, your family or your business safe.

Fire Safety

According to the U.S. Fire Administration http://www.usfa.fema.gov/, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency http://www.fema.gov/, more than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 25,000 are injured. Security bars may help keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire. Individuals are encouraged to use the following tips to help reduce the number of fire injuries and deaths associated with security bars on windows and doors preventing fire escape.

Use quick-release devices on barred windows and doors.
Windows and doors with security bars should have quick-release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. These devices operate from inside and allow the bars to be opened for emergency escape without compromising the security of your home. Quick-release devices should be easy to open without the use of a key, detailed knowledge or great physical effort. Release devices vary by region and manufacturer. Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency number for information on approved release devices available in your area.

Consider retrofitting current security bars.
Security bars on windows and locked doors prevent escape from fire and impede firefighters' rescue attempts. If the security bars in your home are permanently fixed or do not have quick-release devices, they should be retrofitted with release devices.

Be aware of security bar issues when practicing fire escape routes.
Know and practice fire escape plans monthly, and use them to identify and correct obstructions of windows and doors needed for escape from a deadly fire. Make sure windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and security bars can be properly opened. It is important that everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate locked or barred windows and doors. Windows should open easily and be wide enough to allow escape, and locked or barred doors should operate quickly and easily.

Plan two exits out of each room.
The best escape plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary exit is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or a UL-approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.

Designate a meeting place outside, and take attendance.
Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree, at the end of the driveway or on the front sidewalk to ensure everyone has gotten out safely. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

Once out, stay out.
Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Install smoke alarms.
Finally, having working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home dramatically increases your chances of survival. Smoke alarm batteries need to be tested every month and replaced with new ones at least once a year. Also, consider replacing the entire smoke alarm every 10 years, or as the manufacturer's guidelines recommend.

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Deciding To Stay Or Go In An Emergency Situation

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision in the case of a natural disaster, or terrorist attack is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information -- including the information provided by the Department of Homeland Security's Ready.gov -- to determine if there is immediate danger.

In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. If you're specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Staying Put.
Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside -- a process known as "shelter-in-place" -- is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

To "shelter-in-place:"

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, and close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air-conditioning units and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Go into an interior room with as few windows as possible.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

Getting Away.
Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside -- a process known as "shelter-in-place" -- is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

Create An Evacuation Plan

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • If you have a car, keep half a tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Lock the door behind you.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
  • If time allows:
    Call or email an out-of-state contact in your family communications plan.
    Tell them where you are going.
    If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
    Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

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Protecting Your Computer

  • Install a surge protector between the power socket and the computer's power cable. Spend the extra $20 or $30 to get an actual surge protector, not just a power strip. Some brands offer guaranteed lightning protection, even on their lower-priced models.
  • Small businesses with networks should get surge protectors that offer protection from surges through network cables.
  • Check protection devices regularly. At least once a year, you should inspect your power protection devices to ensure they are functioning properly. Most good ones will have a signaling light to tell you when they are protecting your equipment properly.
  • Use dedicated circuits if possible. Put the computer on its own power circuit, so it isn't sharing the power with your air conditioner, space heater or vacuum cleaner. This greatly improves the power quality and insulates the PC from power sags when these devices are turned on.
  • Turn off and disconnect the power cord during an electrical storm. This is a simple precaution that protects your system from possible problems during a thunderstorm.
  • Turn off power during a blackout. If you lose power, when the power comes back on, the signal can initially be inconsistent, which can make things more difficult for your power supply.
  • High voltages can enter your computer through the phone line connected to the modem. To protect your computer during electrical storms, unplug the telephone line from the modem jack or use a telephone line surge suppressor.
  • Businesses with network servers should invest in some form of UPS, which uses batteries to keep servers running during power outages.
  • Summer heat also can be a significant problem. Keep your computer in a cool, dry area to prevent overheating.

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Planning An Emergency Escape Route

Every year, nearly 4,000 Americans die in home fires and approximately 25,000 are injured. Children and the elderly are especially at risk in home fires because they are less able to escape when fire strikes. You can improve the chance that your family will survive a home fire by making sure that they can escape quickly if necessary. These tips, courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration, are provided to help create an escape plan.

Smoke alarms are life savers.
The primary fire safety strategy for any home is to warn the occupants early. The best way to get the earliest warning of danger is by installing sufficient smoke alarms. Homes should have a smoke alarm near the bedrooms, but not so close to the kitchen that you have problems with alarms from cooking. It's a good idea to have a smoke alarm in each bedroom, especially if you sleep with the door closed.

Plan Your Escape.
The other part of the fire safety plan is for everyone to get out quickly. If you awake in the middle of the night to a fire, your thinking may be confused. Therefore, it is important that you practice your escape plan ahead of time. That way, your whole family will know what to do. Manufactured homes have more ways to escape than most other homes. There are always two doors, and every bedroom has an emergency escape window. Make sure everyone knows how to open the emergency windows so no time is wasted when fire strikes. These windows are labeled with operating instructions. Everyone in the family, as well as frequent visitors and babysitters, should practice the escape plan, including opening the escape windows.

Can You Beat The Clock?
Most people do not realize how quickly fires can grow. A home fire can become deadly in as few as three minutes. Can your family get out that quickly? Consider that it may take one minute for the smoke alarm to sound and for you to recognize the danger. If you have young children or are elderly, you may need another minute to get ready. This leaves only one minute for everyone to get to an exit, open it and get out. By practicing your escape, you can make every second count.

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Hotel Safety

Fire protection systems in hotels, motels, and other overnight establishments continue to improve the level of safety for their guests. Nevertheless, you should find out ahead of time just how much protection these systems do offer you and your traveling companions. When making your reservations, ask before you book if there is a fire alarm system to alert guests should there be a fire? Are there smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and automatic sprinklers installed in each room and throughout the facility? After arriving, take the time to locate where the nearest fire exits are located. Share this information and an escape plan from your hotel room to a safe place. Think of several different emergency scenarios and what you would do.

Choose a stairway as an escape route over the elevator. Elevators can stall or become "smoke or fire traps". Designate a point outside of the premises for everyone in your traveling group to meet should you get separated during an emergency situation. If there is a fire in your room, stay calm—where are your traveling companions? Get everyone out quickly. Don't try to put the fire out if it's out of control. Think of safety first. Leave the room immediately and close the door behind you. Once you've reached a safe place notify the hotel's management and the fire department.

If you sense a fire in another room, feel the wall and the door before opening it. If the door is hot to the touch—don't open it! If you are trapped, call the fire department immediately and seal any cracks around the door with wet towels to keep as much of the smoke from entering the room as possible. If the wall and the door is cool, open it slowly keeping your hands and face away from the opening. If everything appears to be safe in the outside corridor, leave immediately and close the door behind you. Make sure you have your access key or card with you in case the exits or hallways are blocked with smoke, fire, or something unexpected. It may be necessary to return to your room. Smoke inhalation and panic are the main causes of death during a fire.

Never leave children unattended in a hotel room that includes a kitchen with a stove. Be sure to keep a close eye on children if your room is upstairs where windows, doors, and balconies may lead to falling injuries. Only smoke in the designated areas.

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Shopping At The Malls

  • Park in well-lit, well-trafficked areas.
  • Keep valuables out of sight. Lock all doors.
  • Stay alert and don't allow yourself to become distracted.
  • Stay off your cell phone.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash. Bring just one credit or debit card.
  • Carry your purse close to your body. Never place your purse in a shopping cart. If at all possible, don't bring a purse.
  • Keep your wallet in a front or zipped pocket.
  • Don't overburden yourself with packages - use a locker or your car trunk to store packages, then move your car to a new spot.
  • When you return to your car, have your keys in hand, get in quickly and immediately lock the doors.
  • Bring along a friend.

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Online Shopping

  • Shop with known, reputable firms.
  • Confirm phone numbers and addresses so you have another way to contact the company should something go wrong.
  • Provide personal information sparingly. Online vendors do not need your Social Security number or driver's license number.
  • Only use secure servers. Look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of the browser window and a URL that begins with https, not just http.
  • Make sure you understand all shipping charges, taxes and delivery dates.
  • Schedule deliveries when you can be home, arrange for deliveries to your business, or set up a time that you can pick up the package from the delivery service.

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Protecting Your Home or Business When You And Your Neighbors Are Gone For The Holidays Or Vacation

  • Look at your home or business like a burglar would for easy entries into your home, especially unlit areas.
  • Even the best lock won't keep a burglar out if it's installed on a weak door. Make sure your exterior doors are made of metal or solid hardwood and at least 1 3/4" thick. The door frames should also be made of metal or hardwood and fit the door snug and secure.
  • Discourage theft with time-consuming devices that will slow a burglar down. Additional locking devices like dead-bolts, locking gates, bars, pick resistant locks, and alarm stickers in the windows, will make a burglar think twice before attempting to enter. Many burglars will move on to the next target if breaking into your home/business is too risky, "noisy", or time-consuming. Your security systems' decals and lawn signs are an effective deterrent.
  • Make sure expensive items are not visible through windows, such as expensive artwork, stereo equipment, jewelry, computers-even small items like CDs.
  • Never leave a spare key hidden outside (burglars know all the best places)
  • Prepare an inventory of valuables and store it somewhere other than your home, such as in a safe deposit box.
  • Always lock all doors and all windows.
  • Light up your home with well-placed, effective exterior lighting. Make it easy to spot unwelcome visitors with well trimmed hedges, foliage, and trees to minimize dark corners and handy hiding spots.
  • Ensure that your telephone answering machine does not imply that you're not home.
  • Keep sidewalks and driveways free of leaves, snow, etc.
  • Make sure your security system includes a loud inside alarm, intrusion detectors at all exterior doors and windows, and interior motion sensors.
  • Report suspicious persons or vehicles to your local police.
  • Make sure that the street number on your home/business is large, well-lighted and unobstructed so emergency personnel can find you quickly.
  • Cut up cartons for TVs, computers, stereos, etc. Tie the pieces together with identifying labels on the inside before putting them out for trash pickup.
  • Have inside lights and a radio or TV on timers.
  • Stop all mail and paper deliveries or arrange for a trusted neighbor to pick them up daily.
  • Let someone know where you are and when you are expected to return.
  • When returning home, have your keys in hand to quickly unlock the door.
  • If you suspect someone has been in the house, leave immediately and call 911 from a cell phone or a neighbor's house.

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