Easter is supposed to be a day of glory, celebration, resurrection and new life. Unfortunately, this past Easter Sunday while watching the news I heard about a tragic story about a brother and sister, both only 4 years old, who had died earlier that morning after a fire erupted at their grandfather’s home Queens, NY. What made it even more devastating was that the fire was apparently sparked by one of the children playing around with a lighter in a basement bedroom. This was truly a sad story, but also frustrating because it could have been prevented by teaching that child about the power and danger of fire.
So today’s post is a sort of fire prevention PSA, I’m not waiting until October for Fire Prevention week. If this information can help to prevent even one fire or save one person, sharing it now is well worth it!
According to research from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each year there are more than 1.3 million fires reported in the United States. These fires cause more than 3,400 civilian deaths, 17,500 civilian injuries and cause more than $12.4 billion in property damage.
An overwhelming number of these fires occur in the home. When it comes to household fires, the heroics don’t start with firefighters; they start with each of us in our own homes. There are several proven, time-tested ways to both prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.
Here are tips from the NFPA:
Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test your smoke alarms monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the batteries at least once a year (we replace them twice a year, whenever we change the clocks forward or backward). Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them either professionally repaired or replaced.
Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
- Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Fire sprinklers are now more affordable for home installation. They can increase property value and also lower your home insurance rates.
Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Memorize the route from your bedrooms to the exit of the house, so you’ll be able to safely execute in darkness. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
Caring for Children
Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters, so make sure to keep them out of children’s reach and secure in locked cabinets or drawers. Also, take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a dangerous tool and not a toy to be played with carelessly.
Caring for Older People
Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.
Now it’s your turn to share. Do you have a fire escape plan for your family in your home?
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