Are you surprised to know that fire is the No. 1 household killer in the U.S.? Home fires occur any time of the year, however they occur more frequently in colder months and during the holidays.
Do you pull the battery out of your smoke alarm because it goes off when someone is frying or several people are smoking? Do you replace the batteries when you change the clocks with Daylight Saving Time (March 8, 2015)? Something as simple and inexpensive as a smoke alarm and battery can save lives. Yet residents remove the batteries and leave them out, or don’t change them. So, stop right now and think how you would feel if a fire swept through your living space and killed your loved ones, all for the lack of a working smoke alarm? Fire does not discriminate – it will destroy everything in its path – including people!
It is usually not the flames that kill but the smoke inhalation that gums up the lungs and stops people from breathing or creates toxic fumes generated by the fire.
Here are some things you can do to increase your safety:
Replace the battery in your smoke alarm every six months.
Check to make sure your fire extinguisher is working.
Develop a fire evacuation plan with your family in the event one is needed.
Remember that in a fire every second counts – GET OUT AND THEN CALL FOR HELP!
Note all of the exits and make sure they can be used in the event of a fire. For example, if an escape window is painted shut, make sure it can be opened. Make sure there is a safety ladder from upstairs bedrooms, or some portion of the building that can be stepped on from upstairs windows.
If you are in a building with an elevator, instruct your family not to take the elevator during a fire. Take the stairs.
Plan a safe place for meeting outside the home in case family members leave from different exits and make sure it is far enough away from the house that they will not get hit with any exploding or falling debris.
If the house fills up with smoke, CRAWL on the floor to get under as much smoke as possible.
Check door handles before opening. If they are hot, go out another way.
If clothes catch on fire, don’t run! STOP, DROP and ROLL!
Conduct fire drills several times a year (planned and unplanned), and at different hours so family members know where to go and what to do if they are confused by the lack of lighting or unable to see through smoke.
Now that you have a plan if there is a fire, teach your family fire prevention:
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Teach them how to use lighters and matches safely and assure them they can practice, as long as they are supervised by a responsible adult.
Teach children fire safety around gas stoves, including making sure sleeves and other clothing are out of reach of the stovetop when cooking.
Keep pan handles turned away from any walking area.
Always watch hot oil or grease on the stove until the fire is turned off under it.
Keep a pan lid handy when cooking to smother any fire.
Cool matches in water for a while before throwing them in the trash.
Never smoke in bed! If you are smoking on a sofa or such, have a fire safe container to throw the matches and cigarettes in when done. Many fires are caused by lit cigarettes falling into sofas and beds and smoldering a while before bursting into flames – usually after people have gone to sleep.
Make sure circuits are not overloaded and electrical cords are not where they can be stepped on or rolled over. Otherwise, the protective outer layer can break down and cause a fire.
Check wires regularly to make sure they are not frayed and at risk of starting a fire, especially on space heaters, irons, hair dryers and items that heat up.
Move space heaters away from curtains, clothes, beds and other flammable items at least an adult’s arm length.
Make sure to clear any rubbish both inside or outside the home.
Make sure flammables like some paints, paint cleaners, and such (read the label) are stored away from heat and children. Products like brushes and rags used with those items must be well vented.
Parents, you have to teach your children that fire is a tool for grown-ups only. Teach them to go get a grown-up right away if they see someone playing with fire, matches or a lighter. While in your own home make certain that matches and lighters are kept out of sight and out of reach. Put them in a place where children cannot see them and cannot reach them.
Remember, be careful with candles, matches, lighters, electrical heaters and fireplaces. Finally, never leave young children unsupervised in the home. It only takes seconds for a child to light a match or a lighter – the same amount of time it would take you to put the lighter or matches out of sight and out of reach.
Here are some statistics and facts from U.S. Fire Administration:
Children of all ages set over 35,000 fires annually. Approximately 8,000 of those fires are set in homes.
Children make up 15 to 20 percent of all fire deaths.
At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closet and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that can catch fire easily.
A few minutes to follow these tips could save lives and help your family to be SAFE!
Family Service Bureau is available to assist with individual and/or family fire related issues. You can call for an appointment at 973-412-2056.