Thursday, October 27, 2011

6 fire safety tips for your home

Does your family know what to do to prevent fires from happening in the home? And do they know what to do if a fire’s already started? Here are six fire safety tips for kids and adults that will keep your family safe in case of a fire—and help prevent fires from starting in your home in the first place.

Have an escape plan. It’s important to have a fire escape plan worked out that’s simple and easy for your kids to follow. Have in mind at least two escape routes from every room, in case one way out is blocked. The windows in your house must be easy to open—don’t paint them over or nail them closed. Be sure you have fire-proof ladders available and easily accessible to everyone who sleeps on the second floor. Make sure your kids know the drill—practice “escaping” the house via different routes and meeting at a designated spot a safe distance from your home. If your family is familiar with the escape plan before they need to use it, chances are likely it will go smoothly if you ever do.

Never leave cooking food unattended. Cooking fires are the most common causes of fatal residential fires. Be sure never to leave food cooking on the stove unattended. Keep flammable materials including wooden utensils and cloth away from stoves, and be sure to roll up long sleeves when you cook.

Keep fire extinguishers in key places. Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor in your home, with at least one all-purpose fire extinguisher in the kitchen, basement, garage and any workshop areas. Be sure all adults and older children in your family know how to use one. To use a fire extinguisher, pull the pin, aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever slowly and move the nozzle in a side-to-side motion.

Make sure kids know what to do. Many young children will panic in case of fire and hide in a closet or under a bed. Make sure your kids are well versed in fire safety tips. They should know to crawl under the smoke to escape a burning building, to touch doors (not doorknobs) to see if they’re hot and to choose another exit if they are, cover their mouths and noses with a moist towel to keep from getting overwhelmed by smoke, and never to go back into a burning building or stop to take objects out of one.

Get regular inspections. Your chimneys, heating flues, and home heaters should be inspected on a yearly basis. Chimney fires are extremely hot and difficult to extinguish. They are not unusual and can occur from buildup that occurs naturally from wood stoves, fireplaces, or heating units in the home.

Be careful with candles. Candles are a primary cause of fires in the home. They’re easy to tip over, and young children and pets can both knock over a candle easily and cause a fire hazard. In addition, many candle holders heat to dangerous temperatures and are not fire-safe once the wick of the candle burns down. Never leave a candle burning unattended, and don’t allow your children to have candles or incense in their rooms. Be sure to keep matches in a safe place where kids can’t get to them.

In addition to these tips, be sure your fire detectors are working correctly and have batteries—and be sure the batteries are changed at least once a year. Follow these tips, and you should be able to keep your family safe from fire in the home.

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