Fire Safety Is Always at the Top of the List

Stories and statistics support taking fire safety seriously, yet each year we continue to see victims of accidental house fires.  Home fires and injuries are so very common and so very preventable.  Make certain that your family and home are protected by following every one of these tested fire safety tips. Each of these tasks are cheap and easy.  

Install Needed Smoke Detectors
Easy to install, one smoke alarm is required on every level of your home.  Make sure one is near every sleeping (bedroom) and gathering area (family or entertainment  room) of your home. Avoid placing detectors directly by the the kitchen, bathroom, and heating/combustion appliances (furnace, space heater, water heater, etc.) to reduce false alarms.  Detectors are easy to test by pressing a button once a month. Batteries are easy to change every six months - when you change your clocks. Smoke detectors save lives.

Add Fire Extinguishers
Follow these fire extinguisher placement rules. One on every level of your home. One near ever combustible appliance (furnace, dryer, oven, space heater). One near every exit (within sight and reach on the way in or out of the house.) One in any area that is now in conspicuously short supply of a fire extinguisher (near bedrooms, perhaps.) My own small house requires only three extinguishers to accomplish this.

Write a fire escape plan (and practice it)
Consider any special needs (fearful children and family members with mobility issues.)  Ours looks like this:

If the fire alarm sounds or you see smoke or fire, every family member is to exit the house from the closest exit.  Feel doors and handles to see if they are hot before opening them.  Open windows, climb through and jump if needed.  Use a piece of furniture to break the window ONLY IN EMERGENCIES where the window cannot open.  Crawl exits to avoid smoke, heat and toxic fumes that float to the ceiling.  Do NOT go get any pets that are not right with us when we hear the alarm. We will all meet up on Miss Pat's (our neighbor) front porch.  We will NOT go in her house or anywhere else until everyone meets there together and a parent or fire fighter tells us where to go.  We will NOT call 9-1-1 until we are out of the house.  Children will NOT try to use a fire extinguisher! 

Our house is one floor with a walk out basement, and my children are all capable of following these instructions (like opening windows and jumping to the ground).  We have a cat, a dog, and two guinea pigs.  We already train as a family on kitchen fire safety: no water on burning pans, cover them with a lid if possible, don't reach over the stove, if anything else is on fire - get out.

Don't let your bad habits hurt others.
Vices often put entire households at risk, especially children.  The number of home fire injuries related to smoking, alcohol and drugs are staggering.  Alcohol impairs judgment and dulls the senses, exposing a home to greater risk of fire and injury.  Cigarettes (especially in bed) ignite fabrics, upholstery, and other household items.  Do not empty smoldering ashes in a trash can, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.  Illicit drugs leave users impaired and often involve the use of lighters in such a state. 

Protect children from fire injury.
Children are both curious and fearful of fire.  Even very young and more mature children may choose to play with matches if they find some.  Keep matches and lighters put away.  Children may not understand how quickly and powerfully an accidental fire may spread, and they may not tell you when they have started a small fire.  Children may also freeze, panic, or hide during an actual house fire.  Practice home fire drills, with alarms, at night, in the dark!  We know that children will generally respond at they have practiced, so practice.  And adjust your plan every year to meet your family's changing needs, attitudes and abilities.

Use space heaters with caution.
Keep space heaters well away from pretty much anything; they need a large clearance.  Everyday, household items just aren't designed for direct heat.  Keep heaters away from furniture, blankets, and clutter.  Newer models have many more safety features, so replace older units.  Don't leave heaters unattended, especially when you aren't even home.  Use extreme caution around children and pets who will not understand the obvious dangers and misuse of space heaters.

Be safe in the kitchen.
Never leave food unattended on a stove.  Keep cooking areas free of flammable objects (such as, potholders and towels).  Avoid wearing clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves when cooking.  USe a slow cooker equipped with a timer.  Establish house rules that children aren't allowed near the stove while you're cooking.  Use back burners when possible and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.  Do not allow children to pretend to cook on the kitchen stove. 

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