Fire can break out almost anywhere, but advance planning can ease recovery – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Fire can break out almost anywhere, but advance planning can ease recovery

Nancy Schuster and Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension District Agents

Imagine this – waking in the middle of the night to a blaring siren and the smell of smoke in the air. It happens way more often than many realize.

In 2013, one house fire was reported every 85 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Almost 370,000 house fires occurred that year alone. The number is less than the 458,000 reported 20 years earlier, but the potential for devastation is immense if it happens in your home.

With September designated National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, K-State Research and Extension is working with Kansans to be as prepared as possible for emergencies.

The Prepare Kansas blog, and at, is available for tips to help mitigate the effects of disasters for you, your family and your workplace.

Candles, clothes dryers and other electrical appliances, fireworks, and lightning pose some of the greatest risks for fires in the home. And the NFPA reports that roughly three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or the alarms are not working.

Tips for individuals and families:

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home, even in an unfinished basement.
  • Make sure the alarms are on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep them away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. The NFPA recommends keeping them at least 10 feet from the stove.
  • Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows and talk about it with everyone who lives in the home
  • Know at least two ways to get out of every room, if possible.
  • Have an outside meeting place, like a tree, light pole or mailbox, a safe distance from the home where everyone agrees to meet.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help.
  • If the alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Don’t go back inside for people or pets.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, the NFPA says, “get low and go” under the smoke to your way out.
  • Call the fire department from outside your home.

schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email

McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at Frontier Extension’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email

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