We all know Smokey the Bear’s famous saying, “Only you can prevent wildfires.” While there are still elements out of our control sometimes, as human beings, there are things we can do to help prevent any type of fire, whether it be outside or inside. October 4th through the 10th is “Fire Prevention Week.” This week is designed to spread information on how to be safe and how to try and restrict fires. Created by the National Fire Prevention Association, the theme for 2020 is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.” In fact, according to the week’s website, cooking is the number one cause of home fires and injuries. No matter how old you are, everyone could use a reminder about ways to prevent fires from happening, and what to do if they do occur. After all, it has probably been less recently than you think when the fire dog and firefighters stopped by your elementary school classrooms. Here’s a quick refresher.
- Ensure smoke alarms are working on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and common areas. Always test the alarms each month to ensure they are working correctly. If not, replace what is needed.
- Smoke alarms should be at least 10 feet from the kitchen. Too close to a heat source can cause a false alarm.
- There are smoke alarm options for those who are hard of hearing or deaf.
- Create a fire escape plan with your family members or roommates. This plan should include how to safely get out of your home in less than two minutes in the event of a fire. A few things to consider when designing your plan: there should be two escape routes from each of the rooms in your house; if you see smoke, stay low to the ground; decide where to meet everyone outside, and never go back in for anything; and lastly, once a fire starts, you have less than two minutes to get out. Once you have your plan, practice at least twice a year to make sure everyone knows what to do.
- Other habits to include when practicing with your family are to always close the doors behind you when escaping a fire; test door handles to see if they are hot before opening and to “stop, drop, and roll” if your clothes catch on fire.
- Store matches and lighters in a safe, preferably locked, place, and keep away from children.
- Always remain in the room where there are lighted candles. Extinguish the flames before leaving the room or switch to flameless candles.
- Check all cords in your house often and replace any that have been frayed.
In addition to general precautions you can take, you can also prevent fires from happening in everyday activities, such as cooking.
- Always stay alert when you are using the oven or stovetop.
- Check your food often and use a timer when simmering, frying, grilling, boiling, baking, or roasting.
- Stay in the kitchen at all times.
- Move anything that could catch fire away from the oven or stovetop. Items could include towels, oven mitts, etc.
- Clean your burners and oven regularly. A buildup of food and grit could cause a fire.
- All flammable items, such as paper, clothing, or rugs, should be at least 3 feet from a heater, stove, or fireplace.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should always be watched when in use. Before leaving a room, extinguish them.
- If you are using a space heater, make sure it is on ceramic tile or another non-flammable surface. Never place it on cloth objects. In addition, purchase models that shut off instantly if the heater falls over.
- Keep children and pets away from heaters, fireplaces, stovetops, and ovens. You can purchase a safety gate for this purpose.
Encountering a fire is one of the things we prepare for and hope never happens to us. However, it is also best to be prepared in every way you possibly can. These tips will help prevent a fire and just may help save a life!