According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2014 public fire departments responded to about 1.3 million fires, and resulting in $11.6 billion in property damage, 15,775 injuries and unfortunately 3,275 deaths.
Since it’s National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4-10), this edition of “5 Things You Need to Know” is devoted to tips to help keep you and your family safe if your home is ever involved in a fire.
1 – In case of fire, DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE! Fires are scary, but children should never think it’s safe to hide in closets or under beds if there is one in their home. Teach children to evacuate. Show them how to use the back of their hands to test if a door is hot before they open it in a fire situation. If it is hot, they should use another way out. Another alternative for a child is going to a window and shout out to a firefighter to come and help them.
Children should know TWO ways out of your house in case of a fire, and have a designated place outside where the whole family will meet. Occasionally have your own home fire drill, to make sure children will know what to do.
2 – To escape during a fire, children should be taught to FALL & CRAWL. Smoke rises, so it’s important for children and adults to stay close to the ground. It is easier to breathe in a fire if you stay low while getting out.
3 – If your clothes catch fire STOP, DROP and ROLL until the fire it out. Shout to others for help, but don’t run.
Running makes fire burn faster – you’re giving it oxygen to breathe. If your clothes catch fire, this is the best way to put the fire out.
4 – MATCHES AND CANDLES ARE NOT TOYS. Let the adults handle them. Parents should even consider replacing open-flame candles with LED-powered versions to use with seasonal decorations on tabletops and mantles. These lights flicker and sometimes even smell like the real thing. If you must use candles, blow them out when you leave the room or go to sleep and use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t topple; and keep all candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
5 – It’s a simple fact, SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES. In a fire, seconds count. Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 PM and 7 AM. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out.
Smoke alarms are a critical first step for staying safe, but in order for them to be effective; they have to be working properly. Install smoke alarms (you can even get ones that also monitor for carbon monoxide) on every level of your home – including the basement. The NFPA even strongly recommends installing one in every bedroom in your home.
Use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder to check your smoke alarms, make sure they work properly and change batteries if necessary. Smoke alarms expire after 10 years, so if your alarm is 10 years or older, you should install a new one.
Make sure to check in with your local fire department this week. Many are hosing open houses for Fire Prevention Week and some give out free smoke detectors, coloring books for children and fire prevention safety tips for all. Children can also get an up close look and hands-on experience with firefighter gear and of course, the main attraction at a fire station, the fire engines!
Now it’s your turn to share. How do you teach your child about fire safety?
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