October is Fire Prevention Month and many local fire departments attend elementary schools to reinforce fire safety and emergency techniques appropriate for the child’s age. Our kids can prevent accidents from happening and know what to do in any emergency situation that may occur in their home or while at a friend’s house. Children learn at an early age that matches and lighters are to be used by adults only. Hopefully they have been taught to dial 911 in an emergency and perform Stop, Drop, and Roll techniques that can save their life.
Often as parents we need reminders to reconnect us with a few tips to prevent fires in our homes. Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Only one in five home fires were reported during these hours. One quarter of all fires are started in the bedroom. Three out of five fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors. (National Fire Protection Association). Do you have working smoke detectors in each bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen? A general rule of thumb is to change your batteries when the time changes-both Spring and Fall. Also, any smoke detector over 10 years old needs to be replaced. If there is no date on the alarm, replace it! A fire extinguisher in the kitchen and each floor of your home is advised.
Does your family have an escape plan? Get the kids involved in drawing a plan up then practice it. You never know when an emergency will occur. Do you have at least 2 ways to get out of your home? Train your children on what to do when they hear the beep of the smoke detector. Get down low and leave the room immediately!
Does your home have a fireplace? Don’t use it before checking to see that there are no bird nests, or debris on the chimney cap. Tree limbs should not be visible near the chimney. With a flashlight, check the flue damper to make sure it opens, closes, and seals properly with a clear vision to daylight at the top. Try to use older seasoned wood that has been dried out. Gas fireplaces need attention too. If you have a gas fireplace, turn the gas off at the shut off valve and test the ignitor. Ignite the fire and check for any clogs in burner holes. Clear any obstruction before using.
Furnace filters should be replaced every 2 months. Changing your filter will enable your furnace to work more efficiently, reduce your electrical bill, and prevent fires occurring. Furnace filters are designed to prevent dust from accumulating. If the filter is not changed regularly, dust can accumulate (highly flammable), be sucked into the furnace and cause a fire.
Space heaters must be turned off at night and situated away from furniture, bedding, clothing, and mattresses.
Candles and Electrical Wires
Never use an appliance with a frayed cord. Appliances should be directly plugged into the outlets and not plugged into an extension cord. Outdated wiring may also cause electrical fires. If your home is over 20 years old it may not have the capacity to overload with computers, TVs, microwaves, and air conditioners.
Candles are often used in the Fall/Winter if power goes out or to enhance lighting and ambiance in home. An average of 25 home fires occurs daily by candles. Leave the room, blow out the candle! Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
More Fire Prevention Safety Tips are available at www.NFPA.org. Children can be a big part of your home fire prevention plan. Here is a handy checklist to use courtesy of Sparky and Safe Kids Worldwide.
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