HOW TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE
December 29, 2009 4:00:00 PM
As the days turn colder, the chances of accidents or deaths due to fires rise dramatically. Many fire deaths are preventable, by using a smoke alarm, and by following some simple guidelines.
More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 20,000 are injured.
Heating is the second leading cause of residential fires, and having a working smoke alarm reduces one''s chance of dying in a fire by nearly a half.
Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates dramatically:
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.
- Kerosene heaters are not permitted in many areas. If you use a kerosene heater, use only the recommended fuel. Always refuel outdoors safety away from your home.
- Allow your heater to cool before refueling and only refuel outdoors.
- Keep the fire in the fireplace by making sure you have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
- Clean your chimney regularly chimney tar build-up can ignite your chimney, roof and the whole house.
- Space heaters need space. Keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.
n When buying a space heater, look for a control feature that automatically shuts off the power if the heater falls over.
- Carefully follow manufacturers'' installation and maintenance instructions.
- For wood stove fuel, use only seasoned wood, not green wood, artificial logs or trash.
- In case of a fire, crawl or stay low to the ground, beneath the smoke, and have an escape plan already worked out. Get out, stay out.
Careless smoking is the second leading cause of fire deaths.
- Never smoke in bed. Replace mattresses made prior to the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
- Don''t put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs.
- Use deep ashtrays and soak ashes in water before disposal.
- Don''t leave cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. Put out all smoking materials before you walk away.
- If you begin to feel drowsy while watching television or reading, extinguish your cigarette or cigar.
- Close a matchbook before striking and hold it away from your body. Set your cigarette lighter on "low" flame.
- If smokers have visited, be sure to check the floor and around chair cushions for ashes that may have been dropped accidentally.
n Develop and practice a fire escape plan. In case of a fire, crawl or stay low to the ground, beneath the smoke, and use the escape plan you have worked out. Get out and stay out.
Children and fire
Each year, about 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed in fires attributed to children playing with fire.
n Keep matches, lighters and other ignitables in a secured drawer or cabinet out of the reach of children.
n Teach your children to tell you when they find matches and lighters.
- Always dress children in pajamas that meet federal flammability standards. Avoid dressing children for sleep in loose-fitting 100-percent cotton garments, such as oversized T-shirts.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
- Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out.
- Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if clothes catch fire.
- Develop and practice a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Get out and stay out.
- Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Replace mattresses made prior to the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
- Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
- For more fire safety information for young children, visit www.usfaparents.gov.