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.

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). Now is the time to check for working smoke detectors. 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. A fire extinguisher in the kitchen and each floor of your home is advised.

Many home fires start in the kitchen while food is cooking. Unattended items cooking cause 44 percent of home fires, 15 percent of home fire deaths and 38 percent of home fire injuries each year. Kitchen fires can be prevented by never walking away from an item in the oven or on the stove. We often get busy and want to use our time effectively by doing laundry, working on a project or otherwise straying from the kitchen while items are cooking. Set a loud timer to prevent leaving an item cooking and burning up your kitchen.

Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it has cooled. Keep children safe when you are cooking by creating a kid-free zone of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared or carried. Use masking tape on floor to teach children to be cautious. Items easily caught on fire including towels and wooden spoons should also be kept a safe 3 feet away from cooking area.

Hopefully, a cool front is coming soon, and fireplaces may be used. Prepare your fireplace before using to insure 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.

Prevent electrical fires in your home by never using 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.

More Fire Prevention Safety Tips are available at www.NFPA.org. Children can be a big part of your home fire prevention plan.