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Fires are no more prevalent inside mobile homes than in traditional one- or two-family homes. However, safety inside you mobile home is oftentimes overlooked until tragedy strikes. Most occupants fear storms such as tornadoes or hurricanes, but mobile home owners should be equipped to deal with a fire. Stay ahead of the fire safety curve with up-to-date fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and a well-planned escape route that is practiced often.
While cooking in the kitchen, always stay in the kitchen. Keep pot handles turned away from the room to prevent a curious child from pulling it down, causing injury to the child and possibly starting a fire. Before cooking, roll up your sleeves and use oven mitts while avoiding loose-fitting clothes. You should also keep flammable items such as paper/plastic bags and dishtowels as far from heat sources as possible.
If a fire starts while you're in the kitchen it could be relatively easy to put out, but if permitted to burn unchecked could overwhelm your entire kitchen in just minutes. Most fires are easy to put out when caught right away; make sure you don't panic and know to put a lid on small pan fires or dump baking soda on a grease fire, as these will deprive the fire of much-needed oxygen. If the fire is unmanageable, immediately get everyone to safety and call 911 from a neighbor's house. DO NOT GO BACK INSIDE THE MOBILE HOME FOR ANY REASON!
The same rule applies to grilling and barbequing outside your mobile home: Never leave your heat source unattended. Ensure your grill is at least ten feet away from other objects such as your mobile home, your pets, and especially your children! Plants and shrubs should be avoided as well since the mulch beds that they lie in are very flammable.
It usually goes without saying, but never smoke a cigarette while in bed. If you feel even remotely tired, don't even smoke in that big, comfy recliner. Try to smoke outside your mobile home when possible and use "fire-safe" cigarettes. Use large, deep ashtrays that are placed on sturdy surfaces like a table. When finished smoking, don't just stamp out the butt, but douse it with water to ensure it's completely out before dumping them in the trash.
You should install smoke alarms at every entrance to every bedroom in your mobile home. Mobile homes manufactured recently have smoke detectors built-in. For the best protection, install ionization-type and photoelectric-type detectors throughout the mobile home. Some models are dual-purpose and will be labeled accordingly on the packaging. Test monthly to ensure proper operation and replace batteries when indicated or once a year.
Purchase fire extinguishers for your mobile home and ensure they are up-to-date and fully charged. If you're unsure, buy a new extinguisher. Check out the labels on the extinguishers, some are made for general use and some are specifically for grease-fires. Different types of fires may require special extinguishing agents, so check the labels for the perfect fit for your household needs. Know WHEN and HOW to use a fire extinguisher to avoid further harm.
Since the grass-mowing season is now upon us, take the time to ensure you have proper gasoline storage receptacles for your mowers and weed eaters. Milk jugs and anti-freeze containers are NOT approved for gasoline storage and in many states violate laws when used. Many times these containers are not airtight and gas fumes themselves are actually more flammable that the liquid in the container.
Electrical system failure and heating system fires are the top causes of fires in mobile homes. Do not use multiple extension cords or power strips in one outlet. This can cause a dangerous overload of current and start a fire. Make sure that towels or curtains are not dangerously close to heating or ignition sources in your mobile home.
Teach every family member to "Stop, Drop, Roll and Cool" if clothes catch fire by dropping immediately to the ground, crossing hands over your chest and rolling over and over or back and forth to put out the flames. You may also cover your face to protect your face and lungs. Cool the burned area with cool water and seek medical attention for serious burns.
In the unfortunate event that a fire starts and becomes uncontrollable in your mobile home, get everyone out and call 911 from a neighbor's house. This becomes a very easy task if you have a practiced escape plan. You should develop an escape plan and practice it often with both adults and children alike. Find two exits out of every room and pick a meeting place outside. Remember, a well-practiced escape plan could mean the difference between getting out alive and not as a fire tends to spread quickly throughout a mobile home's contents.
If you have a fire in your mobile home: once you get out, STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason!
Call or visit your local fire department for other very valuable tips and checklists for fire prevention. You can also visit a myriad of very reliable websites online. Several websites contributed to the writing of this article:
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