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Ask Sparky
Here are some of my most frequently asked questions. If you have a question for me and don't see it here, click here to send it to me. Be sure to include your first name, your age, and your hometown.
Ask Sparky
How old are you?
I was born in 1951, can you figure it out?
Do you like your job?
Red FiretruckI love my job! As a fire dog, I get to teach people every day about ways they can protect themselves and their homes from fire and other dangers. But I have a lot more work to do. For example, I know that lots of families still don't have home fire escape plans, and that there are a lot of smoke alarms out there that need new batteries. I also see people who ride their bikes and scooters without helmets, forget to look both ways before crossing the street, or don't wear a seat belt while riding in the car. Fortunately, I plan to keep doing my job for a long, long time, so I can continue to help more people live safely. Just thinking about it makes my tail wag!
Are you real?
Well, of course I'm real! How else could I have my own Web site and answer everyone's questions?
How many fires do you go to each year?
Unfortunately, I go to way too may fires each year. What makes me sad is that most of those fires could have been prevented had people taken some simple safety precautions. Read the answer to my next question to find out simple safety steps you can take to be safe from fire.
How do fires start?
Fire HydrantAll fires require fuel, heat, and oxygen. The fuel is anything that can burn. The heat can come from many things, such as a lighted match, a stove, or a heater. Oxygen is in the air, and that let's the fire breathe and grow. Fires can start for many reasons. A lot of home fires start in kitchens where people are cooking. Many other home fires are caused by heating equipment. Home fires can also be caused by candles, electrical appliances, and cigarette butts. These are just a few examples of how fires can start. Fortunately, there are lots of simple steps you can take to prevent almost all fires. (Go up three questions to learn how you can keep your home safe from fire.)
What is fire safety?
Fire safety means taking simple steps to prevent fires from starting.
How can I be safe from fire?
There are many steps you can take to be safe from fire, and they're all easy. Following are ten key tips to stay fire-safe:
      Yellow Stove
    1. In the kitchen, keep your stove clean and uncluttered. Make sure a grown-up stands next to the stove all the time when something is cooking on it.
    2. If there are adults in your home who smoke, they should use large, non-tip ashtrays. When they're finished smoking, they should either flush the cigarette butts down the toilet or rinse them with water before throwing them away.
    3. Box of matches
    4. If you see matches or lighters, don't touch them! Tell a grown-up where you found them and ask to have the matches and lighters locked up high and away from all kids in your home.
    5. If your family uses portable or space heaters, make sure they're at least three feet away from walls, furniture, and anything that can burn. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep!
    6. If your home has a fireplace, make sure there's a sturdy screen in front of it when it's being used. Only put kindling in the fireplace to keep a fire going don't burn wrapping paper or other items in your fireplace.
    7. Make sure electrical cords are in good condition. (Ask a grown-up to unplug appliances before you inspect the cords.)
    8. Keep paint, gasoline, and other flammable liquids stored away from heat, flame, and sparks.
    9. Make sure candles holders are heavy, sturdy, and large enough to hold candles upright.
    10. Check to see that there's at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and in or near all sleeping areas. Ask a grown-up to help you push the test button to make sure they're working.
    11. Keep all the exits in your home clear of toys, trash, and clutter.

Why is home fire escape planning important?
Fire creates thick, black smoke and deadly gases that make it hard to see or breathe. And because fire can grow and spread very fast, you may have just a few minutes to escape. SmokeA home fire escape plan makes sure everyone in your home knows exactly what to do in a fire so you can escape quickly and safely.
What do I do if I'm trapped in a room by fire?
Smoke alarmThere are several steps you can take if you become trapped in a room by fire. But before I tell you what they are, you first need to know how to avoid becoming trapped. First, make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, and in or near all sleeping areas. (Working smoke alarms will let you know there's a fire, and will give you enough time to escape quickly and safely.) Then develop a home fire escape plan so you use that time wisely. A home fire escape plan includes the following:
    Make an escape plan
  • Two exits from each room in your home. The first exit is usually a door, and second is usually a window.
  • Escape routes from all exits to the outside.
  • A meeting place outside where everyone will meet.
  • The fire department's emergency phone number, which should be memorized and called from a nearby or neighbor's phone.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Your home fire escape plan should be practiced with all members of your family at least twice a year. When practicing your plan, pretend some exits are blocked to figure out how you'd use all your exits.
In a fire, you should always try to use your first exit. If you see smoke, try your second exit. If you must go through smoke to escape, crawl low on your hands and knees under the smoke where the air is cleaner and cooler. If you follow the steps above, you should be able to escape a fire without becoming trapped. But if you do become trapped in a room, you can take the following steps:
  • Close all doors between you and the fire.
  • Seal all the door cracks and vents where smoke could enter using wet towels, duct tape, linens, or clothing.
  • Telephone the fire department (even if firefighters are already on scene) and tell them where you are. You can also signal to firefighters for help with a light cloth.
  • If possible, open the window at the top and bottom, but be prepared to shut the window immediately in case smoke blows in.

HouseHow do I escape from the second or third story of my home?
When choosing exits that are far from the ground, look for nearby balconies, or porch or garage roofs, which can be used to help you escape. You can also ask a grown-up to buy an escape ladder, which should be stored near the exit.
Sparky® and Sparky the Fire Dog® are registered trademarks of the NFPA.

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