October is National Fire Prevention Month. Fire Prevention Week is always observed each year during the week of Oct. 8-10 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire that killed hundreds, burned thousands of structures and scorched 2,000 acres of land.
Children under five and adults over 65 are more than twice as likely to die in a home fire than the rest of the US population.
The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires), either because no smoke alarm was present or an alarm was present but did not operate), as it was in homes with working smoke alarms (5.7 per 1,000 fires). In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire 82% in relation to having neither. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas and inside and outside of bedrooms if you sleep with your doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year or as soon as you hear a low-battery warning which usually sounds like a “chirping” noise.
Below are a few safety tips to keep your children and home safe!
Cooking is the number one cause of fires in people’s homes
There are three main factors when it comes to kitchen fires: high heat, distractions, and using grease or oil.
Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
Keep anything that can catch on fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains – away from your stove top and oven or any other appliances in the kitchen that generates heat.
Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
Fires caused by children
Just over half of child-playing fires in the home start in a bedroom, and bedding material is most often the first item ignited.
Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of the reach of children and only use lighters with child-resistant features.
About two out of every three child-playing fires – and three out of every four associated deaths and injuries – involve matches or lighters.
Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.
Plan regular fire drills and practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year. Make them at different times of the day. Designate a meeting spot outside and a safe distance from your home. Make sure all family members know the meeting spot. Also, practice stop, drop and roll and low crawling in a fire.
Make sure everyone knows how to call 911.
Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Make sure everyone in your home learns how to use them ahead of time by reading the manufacturer’s instructions and understand the steps to use them. Store them near the window where they will be used.
Once you get out of your home, stay out under all circumstances, until a fire official gives you permission to go back inside.
Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. If possible, place a towel under the door and call the fire department to alert them to your location in the home. Go to the window and signal for help waving a bright-colored cloth or a flashlight. Do not break the window but open it from the top and bottom.
Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm and what to do when they hear it.
Teach your children not to be scared of firefighters. Take them to your local fire department to meet them and learn about fire safety.
Teach your children to tell you or a responsible adult when they find matches or lighters at home or school.
Keep smoke alarms clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors, or ducts that can interfere with their operation.
Never remove the battery from or disable a smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm is sounding “nuisance alarms”, try locating it further from kitchens or bathrooms.
Smoke alarms wear out. Replace your alarms every 10 years. If you can’t remember when you last replaced them, buy new alarms that are interconnected if possible. Install them using manufacturer’s instructions and hire an electrician for installing alarms that are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system.