Use the following fire safety and prevention information to lead family discussions.
·Keep all matches and lighters out of the hands of children. If possible, keep these sources of fire in locked drawers. Consider buying only “child-proof” lighters — but be aware that no product is completely child-proof.
·Children as young as two years old can strike matches and start fires.
·Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
·Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately.
·Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, especially near sleeping areas.
·Smoke alarms should be kept clean of dust by regularly vacuuming over and around them.
·Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. And replace the entire unit after ten years of service, or as the manufacturer recommends.
·Families should plan and practice two escape routes from each room of their home.
·Regularly inspect the home for fire hazards.
·If there are adults in the home who smoke, they should use heavy safety ashtrays and discard ashes and butts in metal, sealed containers or the toilet.
·If there is a fireplace in the home, the entire opening should be covered by a heavy safety screen. The chimney should be professionally inspected and cleaned annually.
·Children should cook only under the supervision of an adult or with their permission.
·Children should never play with electrical cords or electrical sockets. They should ask adults for help plugging in equipment.
·Children should stay away from radiators and heaters, and they should be taught that these devices are not toys. Young children in particular must be taught not to play with or drop anything into space heaters. Nothing should be placed or stored on top of a heater.
·Pots on stovetops should always have their handles turned toward the center of the stove, where children cannot reach up and pull or knock them off.
·Teach children to turn off lights, stereos, TVs, and other electrical equipment when they are finished using them. In the case of room heaters, children should ask an adult to turn it off when the room will be empty.
·Children should never touch matches, lighters, or candles. If they find matches or lighters within reach, they should ask an adult to move them.
·No one should stand too close to a fireplace or wood stove or other types of heaters, where clothes could easily catch fire.
·Evidence of fire play, such as burnt matches, clothes, paper, toys, etc., or if you smell smoke in hair or clothes.
·Inappropriate interest in firefighters and/or fire trucks, such as frequent, improper calls to the fire department or 9-1-1.
·Child asks or tries to light cigarettes or candles for you or other adults.
·Matches or lighters in their pockets or rooms.
·Talk to your child or students in a calm, assured manner about fire safety.
·Consider visiting a fire station if children are very interested in firefighting and/or fire trucks or ask a firefighter to visit your classroom. Have the firefighter talk about his/her job and the dangers of fire.
·For parents: Create opportunities for learning about fire safety at home.
For example, when you cook, let your child get the pot holder for you; when you use the fireplace, let your child bring you the wood or tools; if you use candles, let the child check to make sure the candle holder fits snugly; and when you change or test the batteries in your smoke alarms, ask the child to help you.
·Talk to the child about his or her actions. Explain again that fire is a tool for use only by adults, and that it is very dangerous for children.
·Many schools, fire departments and law enforcement agencies have programs for children who are inappropriately interested in fire or who have set fires.
frayed cords on electrical appliances
electrical cords run underneath carpets or furniture
matches and lighters placed where kids can reach them
fireplaces without mesh screens
paper, fabric, trash, or other combustible materials left too close to heat sources such as furnaces, hot water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, etc.
material draped over lamps
curtains located too close to the bulbs in torch-style halogen lamps
pot holders or kitchen towels stored too close to stoves
electrical equipment left on with no one is in the room
smoking in bed
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The Red Cross had these notes about what to check to see if you have
FIRE HAZARDS IN YOUR HOME:
“Kitchen Fires Are Most Common
Most home fires start in the kitchen during cooking — usually on stovetops —not in the oven. Be sure to stay in the kitchen when cooking, frying, or grilling on your stove top.
Check for curtains, towel racks or even paper towel dispensers sitting too close to the burners. If your microwave isn’t built in, make sure it’s clear of surrounding clutter and its vents aren’t obstructed. If you don’t already have one, buy a fire extinguisher to keep within easy reach should something ignite while you’re cooking. Remember, don’t toss water on a grease fire if you’re caught without an extinguisher. If a fire starts in a pan — and many do — put a lid on it to suffocate the flames.
Keep Your Home Safe While Keeping It Warm
Heating equipment, like space heaters, are involved in 1 of every 6 home fires. Furthermore, 1 in every 5 home fire deaths and half of all fires caused by home heating occur between December and February.
Make sure to always keep anything that gives off heat at least 3 feet away from flammable materials or items. Never plug more than one heating appliance into an outlet. Keep portable gas generators outside and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is checked and cleaned by a professional once a year. Use a metal or glass screen that is large enough to prevent escaping embers. Never leave fires (or candles) burning, or heating appliances plugged in, while asleep, in another room, or when you leave your home.
Check Your Appliances
Dryers are responsible for about 9 out of 10 appliance fires.
Check yours — in fact, check all your appliances — for testing labels that indicate you purchased them in safe working order. You may not find them on some older appliances, so consider whether it’s time to replace them or have them checked by a professional. Make it a habit to clean out the lint screen every time you use your dryer. It may be an annoyance, but this simple action can save you a lot more pain and aggravation later.
Don’t Forget Electronics and Outlets
All those appliance and electronic cords have to plug in somewhere, so your electrical outlets should be next on your home inspection list.
Are any overloaded or showing signs of wear? Rearrange things so as many appliances as possible have their own outlets, and use extension cords to reach more distant outlets. This option may be a bit unsightly, but avoid running extension cords under rugs. Make sure your lamps are all using bulbs with wattage equal to or less than what the manufacturer recommends as well. When it comes to electronics, unplug them when they’re not in use whenever possible. Lastly, keep in mind that items like televisions and computers need space from anything flammable because they can overheat!
Inspect Storage Areas
Your garage, basement and yard can present hazards as well — in fact, they have the potential to be even more dangerous.
Avoid cluttering debris or junk near your furnace or heater. Old newspapers piled in damp, warm places can actually self-combust — they don’t even have to be close to a heat source. If you have gasoline or other flammable liquids at home, keep them tightly sealed in metal containers and make sure they’re far away from heat sources, including the gas or charcoal grill you love to use in the summer. The grill itself should be at least 10 feet from your home and placed away from any overhead branches or structures.
Practice Your Escape Plan
Despite your best efforts, something may go unexpectedly wrong, so you and your family should have a plan for what to do in case of emergency.
Create an escape route that provides two possible exits from each room, such as a window and a door. Avoid using any windowless rooms as bedrooms. Keep escape routes as clutter-free as possible so no one trips and falls on the way out during an emergency. Practice your plan at least twice a year and make sure everyone can safely escape in less than 2 minutes. Keep in mind that members of your household may need extra assistance — have a plan for who will help them and practice! ”
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ABCs of fire extinguishers
EXIT DRILLS IN THE HOME (E.D.I.T.H)
Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room.
Sleep with your bedroom door closed. It helps to hold back heat and smoke.
Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.
Make certain that no one goes back inside.
Practice – Practice – Practice.
HOME FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST
Have you planned at least two ways to get out of every room in your home?
Do you keep exit routes clear in your home?
Do you know how to notify your fire department quickly and correctly in case of fire?
ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN
Do you make it a rule never to leave small children alone or unattended?
Do your baby-sitters (and you) know the first rule of safety in fire emergencies? —Get everybody out fast, and don’t go back in.
Do you show your baby-sitters the escape routes from your home, and give instructions on the correct way to report a fire?
GOOD SMOKING HABITS
Is smoking in bed strictly against the rule in your home?
Do you always make sure that cigarette, cigar and pipe ashes are completely extinguished before you dispose of them?
Before going to bed, be SURE there are no cigarettes still burning.
Are matches kept out of the reach of children? Keep matches and lighters above the “strike zone” (too high for children to reach).
HEATING AND COOKING
Are furnaces, stoves and smokepipes kept in good repair and located far enough away from combustible walls and ceilings so that they do not create a hazard?
Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying.
If you have portable space heaters in your home do you see that they are properly maintained and located? Keep portable space heaters away from people, curtains, and furniture.
Do you have an annual inspection of your heating system?
Have heating equipment checked and cleaned each year.
Do your sleeves get into things when you cook? Wear tight-fitting clothing when you cook.
Can you stop a cooking fire safely? Smother a pan fire with a lid. Never use water. If cooking oil starts to smoke, turn down the heat. Don’t throw whatever’s handy on the counter, such as dumping flour from the bag, on the fire (explosion!)
Do you see that extension cords are never run under rugs or hooked over nails? Avoid using extension cords wherever possible (especially small-wired cords use with high-wattage appliances.)
When the breaker “trips” or a fuse blows, do you investigate WHY it happened? If a fuse blows (or a breaker “trips”), find the cause. Remove excess appliances (lamps, stereo components, space heaters, etc.) from a breaker circuit that frequently “trips”.
Is the right size fuse (20 amps for lighting circuits) in each socket in the fuse box? Replace the fuse with one of the correct size.
Is your TV well ventillated? Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating. If it doesn’t work right, it can be a fire danger.
Do you keep rubbish cleaned out of the attic, basement, closets, garage and yard? Sort and remove rubbish. Don’t store things near the furnace or heater.
Are gasoline and other flammable liquids stored in safety cans, and kept well away from both heat and children? Move flammable liquids away from heat. Do not store flammable liquids in the home. Keep them stored outside and away from the house in a separate storage building. Don’t fill a hot lawn mower or other motor; let it cool first.
IF A FIRE SHOULD OCCUR IN YOUR HOME…
1. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.
Familiarize yourself with at least two exits from each room; for example, one window and one door. Know where the exits are; practice using them.
2. HAVE A MEETING PLACE LOCATED OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
A fire is no time to be worrying about who made it out and who did not. By establishing a central meeting place outside the house, you can count heads and not have to wonder who might still be inside.
3. PHONE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
FROM A NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE
4. NEVER GO BACK INSIDE FOR ANY REASON!
Once you are outside, do not go back inside. The fire department will be there in a matter of minutes. Stay at the meeting place and wait for the fire department.
The kitchen is a relatively safe place, but contains many elements to make a place for common household accidents.
You can minimize kitchen fire safety hazards by:
· Regularly checking pilot lights.
· Cleaning up accumulated grease.
· Not smoking cigarettes.
· Know the location, type and purpose of your fire extinguisher.
· Examine your extinguisher for any signs of damage or tampering.
· Know how to use your fire extinguishers.
· Avoid loose clothing that could get caught in flames or appliances.
· Use salt or baking soda to put out small flames. If anyone’s clothing should catch fire, the rule is: Stop, Drop and Roll.
· Keep pot and pan handles pointed toward the back of the range top.
· If using a regular gas stove, turn off the flame before stirring, turning or flipping food and turn it back on when you are finished. If the stove is electric, warn children that it will stay hot even after it has been turned off.
· Putting things in or taking things out of the oven is for adults only.
· Never leave a child alone when cooking or when any electrical appliances are within reach.
· Talk to children about safety precautions in simple, clear terms. Younger children need frequent reminders.
· Never leave appliance cords hanging from the counter top.
· Do not overload electrical sockets.
· Have the wiring checked in an older home to make sure it meets current building codes.
· Check all appliances and extension cords for frayed or exposed wires. Open or damaged wires can start a fire.
· Professionally clean and service heating systems and furnaces annually. Poor ventilation and old wiring can cause fires. Also, make sure your system has an emergency shut-off switch.
· Never use a space heater as a primary source of heat. Do not leave space heaters in doorways or stairways and make sure they are nowhere near flammable materials such as upholstery and drapes. Do not add fuel to a portable heater that is still on or hot. The fuel could burst into flames.
· Unplug heat-producing appliances, such as toasters, space heaters and irons, that are not in use. On/Off switches can fail, leaving the appliance on.
· Use only appliances listed by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). They are tested for safety.
· Always use the proper fuses in your home. Never use pennies, wires or fuses of higher amperage than required to replace burned out fuses.
Unplug appliances when not in use.
Keep cords away from hot surfaces and water. Note conditions of cords and replace if frayed or missing grounding prongs. Extension cords should only be used temporarily.
Keep hot surfaces free of flammable items such as potholders, boxes, plastic utensils, etc. Turn off hot plates when not in use. Pot handles should not extend out from range tops.
Know the dangers of microwave ovens. Only use approved utensils and dishes. Never use metal or plastic products in microwave ovens.
People tend to let down their guard during the holidays which often leads to carelessness and forgetfulness which can cause greater fire hazards than usual.
·Use flashlights (electric torch), not candles, to light pumpkins. ·Dress children in flame-resistant costumes.
Christmas trees dry out and catch fire easily, therefore you should be sure to check your tree for freshness. A fresh tree is deep green in color and has a strong scent of pine. The branches should bend easily and should not lose their needles.
·To keep the tree fresh, cut the trunk at an angle of about 2″ in length and keep it in a holder containing water. Replenish the water frequently. ·Make sure the tree is secure in the holder.
·Do not use candles or flammable decorations on the tree or on displays. Open flames from candles often lead to fire.
·Use only Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) labeled tree lights. Examine the lights for frayed wires and loose sockets every year. Don’t overload outlets and protect wires from injury.
·Remember to turn off the tree lights when you go out or go to bed.
·Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord.
·Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Faulty lights can charge the tree with electricity and electrocute anyone touching a branch. Instead, use colored spotlights above or below the tree.
·Make sure all cords are placed out of the way, away from where people walk.
·Do not place the tree near a radiator, fireplace, or other heat source.
·Do not place the tree adjacent to exit doorways and do not smoke near the tree or decorations.
·Decorations should never block or obstruct any exit path.
·Check with your local fire department to determine what regulations or home safety tips may apply to decorating your home or place of business.
Source: National Fire Protection Association
Children and Fire
Every year, hundreds of children die in home fires started by children who were using or playing with matches or lighters. If your child expresses curiosity about fire, or has been playing with matches or lighters, it’s best to explain firmly that matches and lighters are tools for adults to use carefully. Find safe ways to let your child participate in your careful use of fire. Let them blow out candles or put charcoal on the grill before you light it. As children grow older they can learn how to use matches and lighters safely, but only under adult supervision.
Children and Matches/Lighters
Treat matches and lighters as you would a dangerous weapon. Store them up high, out of children’s reach, preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach very young children that if they see matches or lighters they should not touch them, but should tell an adult about them and where they are. School-age children, on the other hand, should be taught to bring matches or lighters to an adult so they can be removed from younger children.
Every year, careless smoking starts about 35,000 home fires. Those fires cause more than 1,200 deaths and lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in property loss. Cigarettes can smolder under the cushions of a chair or sofa for several hours before igniting. That’s long enough for the whole family to fall asleep before the fire shows itself. Before leaving a room where people have been smoking, check in and around furniture for hot embers, ashes, butts and matches.
To reduce the risk of cigarettes starting a fire, have plenty of large, deep ashtrays on hand and empty them often. Fill them with water before dumping cigarette butts into wastebaskets. A lit cigarette left in an ashtray is a fire hazard. It can ignite butts and matchsticks, and, as it burns down, it can easily roll out of the ashtray and cause a fire.
Smokers Need Watchers
Never smoke in bed or when you are drowsy. Keep an eye on any smoker who is taking medication that might cause drowsiness. Especially watch anyone who is smoking and drinking.
Talk with children about exiting a room during a fire and designating an outside meeting place for the family.
Discuss the following steps for E.D.I.T.H.
– The room will be dark. It is easier and safer to crawl than walk.
– There is less smoke close to the floor and the temperature is cooler.
Exit the Door
– This is the primary exit. Do Not Hide in the Room.
– Join your family in a designated meeting place outside.
– Do not go back into the house. Stay with or wait for your family.
These steps must frequently be practiced with your family.